“Thank you so much, Ojonimi. I don’t know how I would have held on without you.”
He pushed the car key in its hole as Fiyin joined in.
“And I am sorry for yelling at you this morning, Fiyinfoluwa. It was just me being helplessly concerned. I felt somehow. I couldn’t bear the thoughts of anything happen to you last night. Your line wasn’t connecting and I didn’t see you. I told Deji I wanted to call the police, but he dissuaded me from it, saying you always know how to take care of yourself. I was really scared for you, Fiyinfoluwa. Please don’t try that again!” he kept his head straight as he rattled all of this like he didn’t mean them, while Fiyin grinned sheepishly.
“Yes Boss!” she saluted in a joking manner.
Nimi smiled. “Why are you even this stubborn? I thought you are my twin?” He noticed the perplexed look on Fiyin’s face and smiled again before continuing. “Oh! Surprised? I heard Zainab telling you we look so much alike the other time.”
“Ha! So you heard us? Zainab would not kill me o!” Fiyin exclaimed with popping eyeballs.
“My ears are not for fashion parade, young lady! Edward also confirmed that we look alike too. Well, it’s not every day you get an extremely gorgeous lady for a twin sister, you know?”
Fiyin smiled sheepishly. Nimi was making her blush uncontrollably and she spared no effort.
“So why couldn’t the doctor reach you as she claimed?” Nimi turned serious questioning eyes to her this time.
Fiyin took in a deep breath. She’s been expecting him to ask this question all the way from the doctor’s office to the parking lot. Nimi had called almost immediately she powered her ‘lost but found’ phone. It was like a coincidence, that was after the stranger left without a name. Nimi asked her to come over to the hospital where her mother was as soon as she could. They were both at different extremes of the FCT, so it wasn’t really wise for Nimi to drive all the way back to pick her before heeding the doctor’s emergency call. Thank God they had given the doctor Nimi’s number, as an alternative, the last time they visited. The doctor had said a lot of things about the old woman.
First on the list was the fact that her health got worse by every passing minute. She has also lost her memory – something the doctor called temporary dementia. She said it may return to normal with time though, if the surgery is conducted soon enough, and chances on the other end of the pole are also that she may never recover from it. Nimi had held her hand while the doctor broke those news to them. It was as disheartening as anything else and she didn’t really know how to feel. The doctor had also advised her mother be discharged and allowed to stay in a different environment for a while, especially now that psychological and emotional trauma from the news of her husband’s death had complicated the whole situation.
“You don’t understand that right?” Nimi smirked, seeing Fiyin was taking too long to respond to his previous question. Fiyin nodded from side to side but Nimi wasn’t bulging. “I said, where did you keep your phone? First was that I couldn’t call you the whole night and here too, the doctor couldn’t reach you till I had to be summoned from the office.” He emphasized the latter part of the statement.
“I’m sorry, Nimi. I think my phone slid off my bag into the car of the person that brought me to the estate yesterday night!” her voice shook.
“Really? I think I am seeing that same phone in your hand right here?”
Fiyin didn’t know if Nimi was being sarcastic or not. His voice sounded harsh, yet his face had a smile. What sort of unpredictable demeanour was that? Maybe it was just her mind.
“No… Yes… I mean, yes, it’s my phone, yeah. It’s my phone. He brought it back. That driver brought it back to the shop.”
Nimi concentrated his gaze on the stammering girl now. somehow he felt something wasn’t right somewhere but he couldn’t pinpoint it. Many things sounded strange to him about this so-called driver Fiyin met yesterday. First was the timeliness with which they ran into each other as he claimed. Could that really be a coincidence? Then was the fact that he was driving even when a curfew was declared. Now returning a phone? Who knows if he didn’t actually steal that phone to get vital info from it before returning? Nimi cautioned his proactive mind from making a big deal out of someone’s assistance.
He suddenly turned over to Fiyin.
“Have you gone through your phone? Is everything intact?” his eyes peering at the phone in her hand. Fiyin nodded in the affirmative quickly and Nimi heaved in a deep breath.
“Did he… I mean this your mystery driver, did he leave a name?”
Fiyin cursed her luck now. She appeared really stupid with that question.
“No! He said to call him stranger till we see again!”
“Oh! You both will see again?” Nimi started the engine of the car.
Fiyin frowned. “Don’t be ridiculous, Ojonimi. Why all these questions sef? Is there any problem?”
Nimi smiled. “Oh! You don’t even see any problem right? We are cool then. In the meantime, I need to take you somewhere now.”
Alarm sounded in Fiyin’s ears. “Somewhere… where?”
“You will know when we get there. I need to pick something from my office first though. If you don’t mind.” Saying this, he drove the car out of the small parking lot to the busy road.
The white young lady walked in quietly into the bedroom. She stared at the woman sited on the master-sized bed with an almost lost mind. The latter didn’t seem to be aware of anything around her and that was quite unusual.
“Ma’am!” the young lady called out, coming to squat before Lauren and drawing her attention.
“Oh! Hi! What are you doing here? Good job at the video coverage today!” Lauren jammed everything together while wiping away the tears on her face.
The young lady swallowed. “Good job at the presentation as always, Lauren!”
Lauren smiled in spite of herself. She hadn’t really gotten used to this seemingly ‘disrespectful way’ of addressing elders, even someone old enough to be their parent, with their first name.
“You sounded quite moody towards the end of the show today. I think I noticed a tear drop at a point. I had to shift the camera away so your viewers don’t see their presenter crying on set.”
“Loving together alone… my dear, that topic today took me down many memory lanes. I’m sorry I got unprofessionally emotional on the live show again.”
The younger lady took her seat beside Lauren and patted her shoulders lovingly.
“I think there is a lot bottled up on your inside, Lauren. You have a world… a community of people who love and cherish you. I may be working as your video director, but most times I wish for your life… happy, cheerful, hopeful…” She paused to look in Lauren’s eyes before she continued. “I see deep behind those facial makeups and expressions, searing lines of pain… of hurt, lines of pain drawn somewhere deeply on your heart. Somewhere only you have known. Your fans love you, Lauren. Your team; Larry, Irene, Briggs and I, we all love you Lauren! Please let us share in this thing that takes you down memory lane so much so that you leave the studio room without talking to any of us!”
Lauren sighed. The lady had gotten her right there. There were a whole lot of baggage on her neck, on her shoulders, on her mind. Most times she feels like the whole world is in on some unanimous plans to crush her down and break any remaining being left of her in pieces. She’s been talking. Her shrink does a lot of great jobs at helping. These issues come at moments like this where she gets really overladen with emotions that can’t be hidden. Thankfully, the studio is in her big house, so she has the luxury of running off and into the quiet solace of her bedroom as briskly as possible.
“Please talk to me!” she heard the lady’s voice come through her ears; her voice so soft and patronising that it made Lauren want to cry all over again.
“It’s truly not easy loving together alone….” She gasped her few words and drew the lady closer for a hug.
Fiyin couldn’t take her curious gaze off Nimi as he drove into his reserved space in the company’s car park. He knew Fiyin was looking at him in a way that demanded an explanation.
“Is this the place you are taking me to?” She finally voiced out her thoughts and that made Nimi titter lightly. He knew what she was up to.
“Can you trust someone absolutely for once? And you should purchase some little patience too, darling!” he sounded sarcastic.
Fiyin smirked. He practically dragged her from the hospital, whatever patience he was talking about now baffled her.
“Anyway, I need to pick something from the office before we go there.” He announced and that magically calmed her nerves.
Fiyin relaxed her back onto the seat properly. “OK!”
“What is OK?”
“What isn’t OK na? Go get what you want in the office o, I’ll be waiting for you here!” she shut her eyes gradually and slowly while saying that and Nimi could feel his heart skip a beat. Actions ladies do unconsciously.
“No way! You can’t sit here in the car, here in the car park. We’ll go to my office, get the stuff, and get back together!” He was insisting.
“Oh oh! Ojonimi nau! You know I’m tired. Going to your office on the 8th floor…!” she murmured tiredly.
Nimi chuckled and walked over to her side of the car. He opened it and pulled her out by the hand. “When it’s not as though you are climbing stairs. Be forming sweet and lazy twin sister up and down!”
He dragged her along till Fiyin realised there wasn’t an option for her, so she wriggled off her hand and walked on, giving Nimi a very stolid glare which the latter didn’t even mind. They stepped into his office and he hurried over to his desk, pulling out a drawer. Fiyin had always noticed the secretary’s reservation towards her. The secretary doesn’t ever look cheerful whenever she sees her at all, so one can imagine her look today that she came into the office with Nimi. Fiyin’s reluctance wasn’t really about the floor of the building where Nimi’s office was – there was an elevator to take them as many times as possible. Her concern was however drawn from the remembrance of the last incidence. The last time she came to this office kept replaying in her head the whole time. Apart from the weird emotional display from Nimi, Joelyn’s bumping in on them and all the name calling didn’t come across as something she needed a replay of.
“Haven’t you found it yet?” she called out to Nimi from where she stood at the door. Nimi was about to respond when the door pushed open, almost knocking Fiyin off her feet.
It was Mr Johnson. He was wearing a pair of jean shorts and a shirt. Quite unusual of him.
“I’m sorry my dear pretty lady. I didn’t know you were there!” He apologised while tapping Fiyin’s shoulders lightly. The latter smiled in response.
“To what do we owe this visit, sir?” Nimi said, joining them in a hurry.
“We? Do I have two General managers now?” Mr Johnson didn’t hide his surprise.
Nimi laughed shortly. “Meet Fiyinfoluwa, my twin sister!” Fiyin felt a flush down her face as Nimi introduced her as ‘twin sister’. She thought they were more than that already? Maybe that’s all he saw her as after all. She really didn’t know if she wanted to relate with him on that shallow term or whether she wanted more… something deeper.
“Twin, meet my ever conscious, vivacious and hardworking boss, Mr Johnson!”
Mr Johnson blushed as Fiyin did the ‘wow’, ‘nice to meet you sir’.
“You didn’t add my fatherly role too.”
Nimi hissed playfully at that as Mr Johnson turned to Fiyin abruptly.
“Were you not the lady that walked into the company’s café yesterday?” His curiosity was heightened. Fiyin stared with confusion written all over her face. “Yes. you couldn’t have seen us. It was noon thereabout.”
“Oh yes sir!” Fiyin could remember. “I work at the café but I’ve been on break since the death of my father.”
“Oh dear! Sorry about your father…”
“Pa Lawal, the gardener is her father” Nimi interrupted, looking straight into his boss’ eyes. The older man was unlike him who knew and associated with all members of staff, from the executive to the least person in the company. The CEO barely even know all the staff working for him, let alone knowing the other non-official staff.
“Sorry about him again!” he turned to Nimi, “…arrange for something to be done for the family of the diseased. He was indeed a good man!”
Nimi was shocked and yes, he showed it. How do you know a good man when you don’t even know the man? Since when did the company start paying gratuity to menial staff? He didn’t understand why Mr Johnson was having an exception in this case.
“OK sir!” He replied politely. Who was he to argue with his employer?
“I came to see how I can say a proper thank you to you for all you did during my trying moments.”
Nimi smiled. “It’s nothing, sir. You just confirmed it now that you are like a father to me in this company!”
“So we could have a hangout later tonight then!” he proposed, ignoring Nimi’s response.
Nimi sighed. “Let’s reschedule please sir. I’m taking my twin sister here somewhere quite far right now. We don’t know when we would get back.” He sounded apologetic.
“It’s fine. Tell me whenever you are ready!” Mr Johnson said simply and turned to greet Fiyin again before taking his leave.
Nimi was shocked and deadpan on his feet. Did sickness change his boss? It has to be, because the Mr Johnson he knew so closely would argue statements till he had his way. Why he was acting all polite and simple today beats Nimi’s imagination. He ignored it anyway. People have their mood swings, he concluded.
“Let’s go please!” He opened the door and waited for Fiyin to step out before going after her.
Mr Johnson waited until his call was picked up before bringing the phone closer his ear. He had been warned and cautioned not to receive or make calls that way because of radiation flow and all. Using more of earpiece or a Bluetooth device was the best bet, anything that won’t warrant him placing the phone against his ears was fine. That wasn’t important right now. He needed to say all in his mind out now that they were searing hot.
“Jones, Jonas, Jay, Johnson Lee…”
Mr Johnson laughed. “Until you add Bill Gates!”
“You are on your way to becoming richest man in Africa very soon. Your net worth has exponentially increased in the past two years.”
“Very funny, Ike! Anyway, I called to let you in on latest discovery on our mystery girl!”
He heard Ike laugh hysterically on the other side. “I just met her at my boy’s office. She said she works here, and so did her late father. However, my boy introduced her as his twin sister.” He sounded excited while saying these. He was done giggling now and settled down on realising that Ike was either not buying into his happy idea or that he was outrightly uninterested in the discussion.
“Ike, what’s your issue na? And I hope you are keeping to your words…”
Chief Ogbonna cleared his throat. “Well, Chief Mr Johnson, my dear honourable and noble friend, I’ll say congratulations on your new discovery. However, I have some more intriguing discoveries for you about our mystery girl that may interest you!”
Mr Johnson noticed the cockiness in his friend’s voice. He could bank on Ike to get him secrets from Buckingham palace if need be.
“Oh! Shoot it right away!” His curiosity was getting the better of him.
“We can’t say it over the phone. We need to meet up, now or later?”
“Now is fine. I’m closing already. See you at our usual!”
He hung up and pocketed the phone, picked up his other phones and rang the intercom for his P.A to come lift the other things. The discovery Ike has for him had better be meaningful.
“Ojima, I don’t deserve any respect from you again, is that?” Achile Peters queried the obviously baffled Ojima. She wiped her eyes with the back of her palm as she tried to make sense out of the question her husband just asked.
“Honey… good… good afternoon!” her voice still laden with desire for more sleep.
“Really? It’s a good afternoon indeed. I ask you again, Ojima, don’t I deserve any form of respect whatsoever from you anymore?” He sounded more harshly than the previous time.
Ojima sat up immediately, still with a twisted neck, staring helplessly at her husband who was holding his briefcase and suit in his hand. She glanced at the wall clock. It was past closing time. She had slept off on the table here.
“Oh God!” She exclaimed as her whole senses returned to her. She quickly grabbed the laptop on the table in front of her and switched it off as hastily as she could. She had slept off? Yes! She slept off pondering over today’s vlog episode from Lauren. She was thinking hard and deep, about the topic, about the explanations, about the stories, about every single thing her screen goddess had said.
“Have I warned you against watching that woman’s channel in this house, or not?”
Ojima trembled at his angered and raised voice. Achile can be all shades of niceness and a helpless romantic until he is pissed. He probably transferred that attitude to Nimi also. He especially gets most pissed whenever his instructions are not adhered to.
“I’m sorry, Honey… it was…!”
“Of course, you are sorry. That was what you said the last time. Same thing you said the time before, and the time before, and the time before. I am warning and warning you for the last time, Ojima, no more watching of any post, comment or video whatsoever from that site in my house. Have I made myself clear?” He roared.
Ojima quickly nodded her head in the affirmative as fear gripped the better of her.
“I don’t know how many times I need to remind you. A woman like her shouldn’t be talking into your life. Or don’t you know that words are spirits?”
Ojima could only nod. Even though her husband’s voice was calming down in his last statement, she didn’t know whether to feel at home yet. The major issue would come up soon – and that’s when he asks for his food and she wouldn’t have anything to present. She had spent the whole afternoon live streaming Lauren, before sleeping off.
She was done for and she knew it.
Her husband’s gross disdain for that Vlog channel beats her imagination. The man reacted so pissed off whenever he finds her following Lauren, and this was beginning to become a big issue of concern for her.
“I’m sorry to ask you this Honey, you schooled the most of your life outside the country, so you cannot not blame my curiosity. But do you, at any point, know or have a relationship with this Lauren?” she called out to the man that was already putting a foot on the stair.
Achile turned back to look at her with disbelief. He shook his head spitefully and headed upstairs.
To be continued.
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