NIMI PETERS by GRACE OCHIGBO
“Is the tea good, Fiyin?” She asked with complete control.
“Yes, it’s fabulous. Now, about Maami.”
“I want you to be patient Fiyin, we’ll get to the subject of your mother in a moment.” The doctor said in a patronising voice shaped by far too many advanced degrees. “There are some background questions I need to ask if we’re going to help your mother. And I’m sure we want to help her, don’t we?”
“Not if you continue to talk to me in that unbearable indifferent tone, Doctor, as though I were some little child you’re trying to teach how to walk. And not until you tell me what exactly is with my mother.”
Fiyin was obviously losing a grip on her patience and the seeming nonchalance of this doctor wasn’t helping at all. Her voice was low, rumbling, but louder than she had intended. The doctor blinked as her words struck her, actually taking a step away. Fiyin had to send everyone out of the shop. She couldn’t bear the thought of leaving only Deji with her mother, worst still that their father had travelled to Keffi. He has a little farm there and he spends every weekend at the farm. She knew it would be grossly unreasonable to bother the poor man who was doing all possible to make ends meet. It’s an issue that she could handle… well, now she doubts if she can really handle it.
“We may need her to go for the surgery earlier than estimated. I’m sorry.” The beautiful doctor said, with the calmest tone she could mutter.
“Doc…” Fiyin wanted to say, but tears, uncontrollable tears poured down her slim cheeks.
“I’m sorry, Fiyin.” Doctor handed a towel to her. “Her condition got worse beyond our control and as it stands, she has maximum of two months as against the six months postulated earlier. Forget about the thousands of Naira you are owing us in this place over the last months, and worry about raising money for the surgery instead. One thing is most needful right now – the surgery has to be carried out in the fastest possible time.”
Many thoughts ran through her mind. She had been working hard for her mother, for her family. Perhaps she wasn’t working hard enough. It would only get enough when she and her father have successfully raised enough money for her mother’s surgery. She wiped at the hot tears pouring down her cheek again.
“Can I see her please?”
The doctor looked on at Fiyin for a while as though she didn’t understand the request initially.
“Why not? Be gentle.”
Fiyin got up and dragged down the edges of her dress over her sagging jean. She was losing weight by every passing minute; accumulation of stress, restlessness and sleeplessness.
“Fiyin…” she heard the doctor call out just when she turned down the door knob. She left it and faced her.
“You have to do all you have to do to keep your mother alive.” The other woman said calmly, eyes burrowing through Fiyin’s skin.
Fiyin swallowed painfully, opened the door and walked out.
Tolu dragged himself over to his door. He would normally have ignored, except that whoever the person was, knocked persistently. His knees still hurts from the gunshot injury, and his hands and feet from the tough rope that was used to hold him tightly against the chair. The huge man had taken him with blindfolds into the same black jeep – that’s after the warnings earlier. He didn’t know where they drove through. The huge man cut off the ropes binding his hands and foot and charged him not to remove the blind till the car was gone. Even though Tolu was afraid the whole time, he had to obey that instruction, so as not to receive any more beating than his body had taken already.
He opened the door and was stunned by who his eyes met.
“Are you not going to let me in?”
Tolu sighed and left off the door handle he held onto the whole time, giving space enough for her to come into the room before he locked up. With his kind of business, locking the door has become one of the duties he was most faithful to.
He didn’t say a word as he stared motionlessly straight ahead. He was doing that thing where he overthinks. All of a sudden his eyebrows curled against each other and his eyes widened with great grief.
“Please, forgive me!” Joelyn said as she whimpered.
Hearing this, Tolu dropped to his knees and grabbed her face, “have you absolutely lost your mind?”, his voice shattered the quiet air before it, rumbling, trembling, almost dangerous.
“Dad caused it, I swear…”
“What nonsense!” Tolu hit the chair Joelyn sat on hard. Quickly, his mind flashed back to the warning and timing. “Jo, do you have an idea what you have done?” his voice became more and more violent by every passing statement.
Joelyn was beginning to shake at the ankles but didn’t want to show it. She knew Tolu could be extremely dangerous and the best way to stay safe was to put up a bold front.
“I swear, I didn’t mean to terminate it… I mean I didn’t know drugs… I didn’t know drugs… I didn’t know drugs would terminate the baby… the pregnancy.” She stammered as Tolu stood up.
“Please, I am sorry Babe!” Her side eyes followed him as he reached for his wardrobe. She knew she was in trouble. The redness in his eyes could stain a black linen.
“What did I tell you would happen when you terminate that pregnancy?” Tolu sounded sarcastic as a cocky laughter left his mouth.
“Babe, I swear I didn’t terminate it on purpose. I couldn’t have. Please believe me. That’s why I escaped from the hospital, to come and explain to you before it’s too late. Please!” Sweat dripped from all parts of her body now and her voice shook like one of the running machines in the gym.
Tolu suddenly turned and approached her venomously. She felt the impulse to shout but Tolu lives in one of the rooms of an isolated uncompleted building. Only his room was the complete one in the whole building.
Nimi walked majestically into the company’s building. He tried to bear no expression on his face. If there was any way he could sneak into his office without anyone noticing, he would have joyously taken that route. Now for some minutes he needed to clear his head of all the worrying thoughts so he would be able to respond to greetings when he hears one.
“Mr Nimi Peters, you are welcome!”
“Good day Mr Peters, it’s good to see you again.”
“Thank God you are fine, Mr Peters. Welcome back to the office!”
“We really missed you around here, sir! You got us all worried.”
These and many more filled the air as he passed through the general office on the ground floor. This was meant for junior staff members of the company. He was sure to plaster a smile on his face while responding to them. No one should care if it’s a fake one or not.
“You are welcome, sir!”
His secretary said, standing up immediately he opened the door. Was it the two days he didn’t come around here that made the office appear rather too different in his eyes? He couldn’t say. And for some weird reasons he noticed that his secretary looked extremely gorgeous on her yellow trimmed gown and orange blazers today. Whatever made him not notice this the whole time.
He responded unusually warm to her and made for his office.
“A lot of correspondences, I guess? I’ll call you when I need to respond to them. Only tell Eddy I’m around now.”
He stared at the secretary who hadn’t gotten over ‘blushing’ since his last response. She didn’t appear like she heard him.
“I hope I’m clear?” he raised his voice a little louder and that shook her.
“Eh? Ehmm! Yes!” She gasps her few words.
Nimi smiled, displaying his set of well-arranged dentition before entering into his office.
He sort of dreaded coming back to this office. That has been the beginning of turns and turns of unpredictable experiences he had in the past week since he got back from Texas. The doctors said Mr Johnson would be fine. He may just need few days of intensive bed rest as his hypertensive state needs that to guarantee his life. After the boss collapsed the night before and was taken to the hospital, Chief Ogbonna had said things that sounded like threats to Nimi in the line of the discussion they were having before the call came in. He could understand Mr Johnson’s plight quite well and could connect to the fact that the helpless man was trying to safeguard the future of his magnificent company. What Nimi didn’t understand… or better still, who Nimi didn’t understand was Chief Ogbonna. Something tells him there was more to all this than meets the ordinary eyes.
He got up, walked to his refrigerator. His secretary always stuck it up, so he had no reason to worry. He picked a bottle of chilled coke and gulped the entire content down his alimentary canal.
Joelyn’s whereabouts. Fiyin. His parents and family – they must have been dead with worries. He picked his phone, waited for it to power on and dialled his mother.
“Nimi, you want to kill me?”
He heard his mother’s voice come up before placing the phone near his ears. He didn’t know where his Bluetooth device has been since he got ‘kidnapped’. Matter of fact, he just got his phone back from Chief Ogbonna this morning.
“I’m sorry, mum. There was no way I could have reached out. But I am fine.”
“Bro what happened…”
Nimi could hear Ojonugwa’s voice in the background, and somehow he thought he heard his father’s voice also.
“Why are you all at home?” He voiced out his thoughts before he could stop it.
“Seriously? We have been worried, Nimi.” His mother sounded unbelieving as she answered his seemingly senseless question.
Then his father’s voice came up.
“My man! Hope you are fine now?”
Nimi smiled. The confidence in his father’s voice was nothing close to the extremely fidgeting one in his mother’s.
“I’m fine, sir. Things just went beyond my control.” He was careful not to arouse further question for himself as he’s been warned not to relate the ordeals to anyone.
“Well, your mother was just packing and getting ready to travel down to Abuja!”
This got Nimi laughing real loud. He knew the phone was on speaker and he got expected reactions to his laughter from his mother. It sounded really funny imagining that his mother would come looking all round Abuja for her missing son.
“Well, I’m fine now!” he managed to say after catching his breath.
“Uncle Eddy said Miss Jo was missing and your parents thought you actually escaped with her for holidays.” Ojonugwa said it in such a hilarious and sarcastic tone that aroused Nimi’s laughter again. He couldn’t believe his ears.
“It’s all on social media and blogs. Everyone is saying daughter of money tycoon escapes with her handsome supposed lover who is one of her father’s managers.”
“What?” Nimi dashed off to his desktop and powered it immediately. And that’s how someone’s life can never be left private because he is linked to some money bags? The media wouldn’t have suspected him if not for some of the Photoshop Joelyn makes with the modelling pictures.
“I am fine now everyone. I didn’t escape with anyone. I have to sort some things out at the office now people. I should talk to you later in the evening.” He felt the relief in everyone’s tone as he ended the call.
Family over everything.
Then the intercom rang, he picked it up and waited.
“Yes. Oh! Let her in!”
Edward threw his car keys on the centre table and headed for the kitchen.
“Sweetheart! Home so early?” His wife’s voice called from the bedroom.
He regained his stance as the voice seemed to have taken him aback earlier.
“Shouldn’t I be asking you that?” he called back, quickly grabbing a bottle of chilled water and walking in the direction the voice came from. He opened the door to their bedroom and there she was, battling with fixing her necklace.
“So you have to dress like this to your boutique?” Edward was being sarcastic again as his eyes ran over his wife’s frame. She looked extremely beautiful with her natural short hair packed up and the edges left like dreads. She had a jean and polo on and Edward didn’t really see the need for a necklace. Who was he to query the dress sense of a fashion mogul anyway?
“You know how the office is without Nimi.” He said, while helping her fix it.
“You still haven’t been able to reach him?”
“You know I told you I entered his apartment yesterday afternoon. It didn’t appear like someone broken into it, as everything was in their proper place. If Nimi was actually kidnapped as rumours have it, then he must have been lifted on the way or anywhere outside his house. I always insist he gets another gateman but he wouldn’t listen. Now, there is no one to even trace back to as regarding his whereabouts!” Edward murmured painfully. He really hated everything happening to his friend, especially that Nimi was more or less a brother to him.
“Well, we have prayed and God would bring him back. If it was for money, those people should have called by now, right?”
“What if it wasn’t for money?” Edward asked and Ele swallowed. They could only pray and hope for the best.
Edward felt his phone vibrate in the pocket of his suit trousers and quickly picked it. Somehow he wished it was Nimi that was calling him but his hopeful excitement was quickly replaced by a frown on seeing the caller’s ID.
“It’s my secretary”
“Why are you telling me? Pick it!” Ele sounded surprised.
Edward shook his head from side to side and left the phone to ring out. Something must be calling his attention at the office. He had left without informing anyone. Who would he have informed in the first place? He hissed out loudly as the phone started ringing again.
“Pick it, sweetie!” His wife urged on and he reluctantly swiped right the answer button.
“Yes!” With the worst tone he could ever use and waited. Then he jumped up,
“What?” Ele turned to look at him as excitement replaced the frustration on her husband’s face. “I’ll be on my way right now.” he screamed into the receiver and threw the phone into his pocket.
“Nimi is back, baby!” He screamed, raising Ele up in excitement.
“Drop me, drop me, drop me!” The poor woman screamed jokingly, hitting his back. Edward finally dropped her, looking all smiles.
“Whoooo! Did I come home for food earlier? Yes! But no… I’ll see you later in the evening. Nimi is back.” He dashed out of the room saying these words.
He closed the internet sites on the desktop and replaced the intercom with his left hand. Bloggers must just say anything to drive traffic! Now he knows that the earlier he finds Joelyn, the better for his name and reputation, including the health of his boss. He broke into sweats as his heart pounded. Just then his door opened. His hands began to feel clammy against his knee. He felt like walking over to where she stood as though her feet were glued to the floor. The very act of watching her back lean carelessly against the door she just closed behind her was hurting his eyes. Now his heart threatened to burst forth from his ribcage as she approached. He didn’t know what was lifting him. He only saw himself walking towards her, his heart in his mouth the whole time.
What are you doing, Nimi? He asked himself. He didn’t give attention to that question, what he was doing could be anything but wrong.
She looked tired and weak. Like someone that had spent the past uncountable hours crying. It broke his heart to see her in this state. Her eyes stared anxiously at him like a curious puppy dog. She obviously couldn’t tell what Nimi was up to as he approached her. His eyes bore deep through her skin, making her flutter and her lips trembled as his dreamy eyes gazed at hers. She noticed them slowly lower and fix on her lips. She noticed him glance back up, in hopes of recovering from giving anything away. He looked vulnerable. As hard as he tried to keep his eyes off her lips, he couldn’t, and that vividly exposed how he was feeling and what he was planning to do.
Nimi slowly started to glance up and down, eyes to lips, and doing so he couldn’t help but slowly and patiently fall closer and closer to her. He took his time because he knew he only has one chance to make it right. Right before he reaches her lips he stopped, as if there was any chance of turning back now. He stopped, maybe waiting to see if she would make the final move. She would never, he knew that as much as he knew his name. Her eyes stared unblinkingly at him as perspiration covered his forehead. He put his arms on her shoulders, then wrapped it round her back, enclosing her in a hug. She didn’t hesitate. It was as though she needed a warm embrace herself, and getting it from Nimi was the best thing she could ever wish for.
She closed her eyes.
Firmly and tightly, absorbing every inch and every bit of the moment. It felt like the earth stood still for a while. Like there was and has never been any problem in her entire life at all. She forgot all the worries and just drowned in the silence and solitude that accompanied being encapsulated in the warm arms of one’s beloved.
“It feels like a year since I last saw you, Fiyinfoluwa.” Nimi’s voice came through her ears like a soft whisper.
“We heard you went missing, Ojonimi Peters.”
It sends shudders down his spine any day anytime. With his right hand on her back, he pulled her even closer to his chest, chuckling lightly.
“You know I can’t go missing! How are you? What happened to you?”
Fiyin pulled herself away and walked into the office proper. She took a seat on one of the chairs and one could see her battling with tears obviously. Nimi was confused as he ran over to where she sat and squatted in front of her.
“Fiyinfoluwa, you know you can talk to me.” He said calmly, wiping the one strand of hair off her tired face.
Fiyin smiled amidst her tears. “My mother is sick and her condition is getting worse…”
Hot tears poured down as she managed to say these words. She didn’t know if she was doing the right thing; involving Nimi, a guy she barely knew, into matters that concerns her family, but she just needed to voice out to somebody. The pain was much, her vulnerability and helplessness as regards her mother’s condition makes her tend to feel useless a lot of the times.
Nimi lifted himself up a little and hugged her again.
“I’m sorry, Fiyinfoluwa. You have to be strong for her now.” He said, still hugging, “what exactly is wrong with your mother? And any remedy from the doctors?”
Suddenly the door flung open and that startled the both of them. Nimi involuntarily released her from the hug and got up.
“I’m sorry, sir. She refused to wait for me to call you.” His secretary explained, running after Joelyn. Joelyn looked extremely pathetic. Her hair rough and untidy, her feet had dust and dirt clamouring onto it. Wherever she was running from.
“Don’t Jo me, Nimi. So this is it, right?” She screamed.
Nimi made sign for his secretary to excuse them.
“I’m sorry about this…” he quickly but quietly said to Fiyin who wasn’t looking up from her seat at all.
“Oh no! You are not yet sorry about this Nimi, because you would be when I’m done with the both of you.” Joelyn roared.
Nimi felt a little bit threatened but he needed to stay in charge as usual.
“Jo, why did you escape from the hospital and where were you running from?” Nimi’s voice was a bit lowered and patronising as his eyes accessed the lady in front of his door.
“How dare you? So you are eager to kill me just so you can get on with another woman… another poverty stricken God forsaken bitch?”
“Enough!” Nimi screamed, slamming his hands hard against the table. The two ladies shook at that outburst of anger and Fiyin rose her face up for the first time. She glanced at the lady who was looking at her wickedly, in such a way that if the lady’s eyes carried guns, she would be long dead by now.
Fiyin pulled herself together and got up.
“I’ll see you some other time.”
Nimi quickly drew closer to her, talking amidst clenched teeth.
“I’m sorry about all these but you really don’t have to leave.”
“Oyes! She has to leave. You have to leave, bitch. And as you are on your way out, let this be the last time I see you around my fiancé.”
Fiyin wasn’t concerned with the name callings as much as she was shocked and taken aback by what she heard the other lady just say.
“Fiancé?” She turned questioning eyes to Nimi. Nimi wanted to respond but Joelyn shut him up.
“I’m sure he wouldn’t tell you but I know you must have heard it, that’s if you are educated enough to work here or learned enough to use the internet. I’m Joelyn Johnson, the only daughter of the CEO of Crestac group of companies, and of course, Nimi Peter’s fiancée.”
And that was like the gear Fiyin needed to evacuate the office.
Fiyin felt pool of water cloud her sight as she hurried out without responding to Nimi’s call. She walked so fast and so pained. How did she quickly forget the discussion she had with Zainab the other day?
She felt this hardening in her stomach as she hurried out, as fast as her legs could carry her.
To be continued next Monday.
Leave a comment, and share link with friends.
Have a fruitful week.