PLEASE MARRY ME – 16

PLEASE MARRY ME – GRACE OCHIGBO

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

ILEANWA

        My eyes dart from one corner of the room to the other as I glance over the heads of the small crowd attending this workshop. This session ought to have ended about ten minutes ago but the smart and gorgeous young lady taking it is rather too oblivious of the time. She and everyone else in here too for that matter. But I am not. In fact, I’ve been eyeballing her coldly since. It’s a good thing Ayegba is running late. He’s not called or texted to indicate his presence yet, so maybe, it’s a good thing the session is taking longer.

“We reconvene at the gallery in exactly two hours. Have a beautiful break period. And once again, welcome to Eko!”

         An inexplicable excitement fills my heart as I hear this announcement. The way the compere says Eko make my belle sweet me. I grab my handbag and bag pack and head towards the exit immediately. My breathing stops as I open the door. Standing before me is my man. He’s wearing a deep blue tuxedo that’s showing me every build in his upper body that I remember and several new ones that I think I need to learn.

“God, Vee. You’re so beautiful.”

I blush and run my hands down the front of my dress. Moving aside to let me walk away from the door where I’m obstructing persons behind me, I hear him exhale deeply while taking in my scent. The rich smell from his cologne fills the entire room.

“So where are we going?” I ask, fastening my seatbelt.

He slams the car door causing me to jump.

“I am sorry I didn’t mean to startle you.”

“It’s fine. I’m just a little jumpy today.”

I’ve had the nerves all day so he should understand.

        He leads me up the short flight of stairs to the large luxurious reception of the White Orchid Hotel. Ayegba talks familiarly with the receptionist before leading us towards a place with an inscription on the slide doors reading VVIP Lounge. Inside the lounge, my eyes go wide when I see the city view from the glass wall.  

“Wow, Ayegba this is…” I step over to the wall, leaving him standing there and giving him the opportunity to watch me take in the beauty of Lagos. I shake my head, my hand covers my mouth.

“What’s wrong?” He asks, keeping his distance.

“It’s so beautiful.”

“It’s even more beautiful at night when all the bright lights come on. During the day, not so much.” he comes up behind me and places a hand gently on my hip. “Look over there.” He points to another gigantic building where spotlights are streaming from. “That’s a cinema. There’s a private screening of the most anticipated movie of the year there tonight.”

“Are you going?” I ask.

“Nah. But if you want to, why not.”

I smile. That would make me stay out with him too late.

        He holds my right hand toward the lone table in the room, pulling one of the two chairs out for me. I sit and he pushes it in slightly. On top of the table are all kinds of delicacies, local and international, and I wonder if we’re expecting more guests.

“Just eat as much as you can.” He says, smiling.

I pull a napkin to my lap while he pours glasses of wine.

“You’re now a certified Lagos big boy, huh? Of Lay Lay Lay, of Lagos. Ayegba of Lagos!” I sing.

He sits down and smiles. “If you say so, ma’am.”

        I stay quiet for a few minutes. He must be wondering if he’s done something wrong. I focus on the food and let my mind drift to how I struggled to keep mind and soul together after I ran away from Mrs. Ocheme’s house.

         I did all sorts of menial jobs and my pregnant state didn’t help matters. Fortunately for me, being on the slim side made the pregnancy not so obvious most of the time, especially when on abaya dresses. Most persons simply assumed I had a slightly bulging belly up to eight months in.

          I joined a church shortly after having Attah and because of the size of the congregation, I was barely noticed. When Attah turned two, it became a pressing need to have a more stable job. Luckily for me, a church member gave a testimony in one of the services about how God helped him establish a photo studio after engaging in aggressive evangelism. I immediately gathered courage to meet him after service and made my request known to him. To my greatest surprise, he excitedly asked me to come meet him at the studio the next morning.

          It was too late to tell him I wasn’t a professional photographer yet when he offered me the job. That I only wanted to ‘intern’ under him. I remembered what Ayegba told me about being a natural at photography. That self-awareness paid off eventually so much so that just by mere observation, I soon became the second best photographer in the studio after the founder. Later on, I joined the technical crew in church also, enhanced my skills and captured beautiful moments.

          Eighteen months later, during another service, I overheard my boss giving a testimony from my place at the technical stand. He said that his previously denied visa application had been granted on the bill of grace after he engaged in an aggressive seed sowing. That day, I wondered why everything about him had to be ‘aggressive’ though. Aggressive evangelism, aggressive seed sowing.

           Well, at work the next morning, he told me the implication of his successful visa application. Closing down the studio and rendering jobless again?

“I will be leaving the country by month end, Ileanwa.” He started, and I rubbed my sweaty palms over my jean. “I want you to take over this place henceforth. I see you’ve got talents and I know you’ll do well. May God grant you wisdom to run this business successfully.”

For several minutes, I was at loss for words.

When it finally dawned on me that I had just been handed a large and well reputable studio just like that, I went on my knees in appreciation. He said I was free to rebrand and rename to whatever I was okay with. My heart welled up for joy. I took baby steps, a day at a time, determined to grow the business. My boss had so many customers who’d been also fond of me at the time and because of the skills I’d learnt and developed from him over the years, his customers gladly became mine in no time.

         One day, when Attah was five, a member of our church called me to her wedding ceremony as her main photographer. That would be my major wedding shoot experience ever. It was a big societal wedding and I knew I had to give my best.

         My crew and I arrived just in time to set up the lights and drones in the bride’s hotel room. We had to capture her dressing up moment, her mother’s last prayer session moment with her and just about everything any bride wants to have memories of. Everything had been going on so smoothly until I noticed I hadn’t taken an extra battery from the studio. Calling Ify to no avail, I called Dayo, my newest employee, to try getting it down to our location as soon as possible.

“Hello. Where did you say you are?” I yelled as I excused myself from the hotel room in search of Dayo. “Where at the lobby are you because I’ve moved left and right…” my patience was running out and provocation filled my lungs.

“Maybe, he’s at the other end of the building.” An unfamiliar voice came through my ears.

         In my earlier rage, I didn’t notice the man sitting on a tall stool, just staring out the window. I looked at him with dead eyes and he shrugged.

“Sorry to interrupt. But there is another lobby just down the hall.”

I managed a smile and ran in the direction he pointed. Dayo got the anger-filled lecture of his life about time management that very morning.

          The groom and his men were to use the rooftop for their shoot. It was overlaying a garden and the view from there caught the early morning sunlight just right.

“You owe me an appreciation, you know?”

I turned to see who spoke. It was the guy from earlier that told me about another lobby. “Are you stalking me?”

“Where did you disappear to? Come on already, dude. We are getting late.” The groom called out from amidst the other guys.

I flashed a glance at the guy beside me and he smiled before joining the others.

          My hand felt jittery some sort during that one photo shoot session and couldn’t wait to leave. Unfortunately, a footstep hurried after me as I hurried back to find the bride and her girls. Same guy. Wahala.

“I saw the passion you put into every click. You’re a very passionate photographer. What’s your name?”

I rolled my eyeballs but didn’t let him see it. For professionalism sake, my business name was in order, or so I thought.

“Ileanwa photography.” I said, hastening my footsteps

He was panting inside his fitted suit as he tried to catch up with my pace. “Nice. What’s your last name though? Definitely not photography.”

Not funny, I thought, but a fake smile curved around my lips still because for all I care, he was a potential customer.

“And why do you want to know? Oh! So you can stalk me on social media?”

“No. I only want to know how to save it on my phone.”

I stopped abruptly and he almost bumped into me. That phrase. I remembered it instantly. Was it an all guys phrase or…

“Well, sorry to burst your bubbles, I am not giving you my phone number.”

“Vee!!!” Ayegba’s soft tap jerks me back from my thoughts. “Can I ask you a question?”

“Of course,” I say before taking a long overdue sip of my wine.

“Did you ever consider a second option of not running away with our baby? Like telling mum regardless of the consequences and waiting for me to arrive – anything other than running away, did you ever consider that?”

         I put down my fork, bringing my napkin to my lips. When I pull it away, I smile at him. “If you’re asking me today if I would have preferred to remain with you all these years instead of running away, then my answer is just straightforward. I would have chosen an opportunity to be with you over everything else in this world because you were my life, Ayegba.”

“Why did you leave, Vee? You should have left a note, a clue, anything. You should have left something.”

I shake my head. There’s no right answer for this one. It wouldn’t matter what I say because we’ve lost more than ten years of our lives together.

“I love my life, Ayegba and I hate it all in one. I love what I do – making memorable photographs of people, preserving their joys and laughter. That feeling alone is indescribable for me.”

Ayegba leans forward and pulls my hand into his. I am not done yet.

“But not having you in Attah’s life has been tough. Now, that’s me being very honest.”

“I miss everything about you. I wake up in the morning and think – why did you ever leave? What did I do wrong that you couldn’t tell me? We promised to tell each other everything. When did I ever stop making you happy?” He manages a smile. “I couldn’t concentrate on anything since you left, Vee. I almost died even.”

“What? No. God forbid.”

Ayegba smiles broader now. He sits back and narrates his ordeal in the military leading to his dismissal. His adventures in Lagos and how he landed the job he’s doing currently.

“I am so sorry, Ayegba. I am terribly sorry.”

He looks at me and my mouth drops open, my eyes glazing over. I’ve been able to avoid most of his looks until this one. My mouth remains hanging open like a fish, my tongue dry. I sit back and he smiles, shaking his head. He gets up, stopping behind me.

“It’s not your fault, Vee.” He whispers seductively, his nose skimming behind my ear making my breathing labored and unsteady.

I have to move away from him before I do something I regret.

“Ehm… I guess my break period is almost over.”

“Yea?”

“Yea!” my voice is very uneasy.

His eyes are devious as he stares at me. He swallows and I watch his Adam’s apple move.

“This is how you flirt with every woman, huh? The way you were doing with Anibe. Lagos big boy something. The only Ayegba of Lagos.”

“I only have eyes for one woman, period.” Ayegba returns to his seat. He rest his elbows on the table and folds his hands together. “Tried to move on in vain. When I saw you again, I knew there was nowhere else I’d rather be. My life is best with you in it, Vee. I’m not going to do anything to jeopardize that.”

“I’m getting married,” I choke out. Mona and I talked about setting a date when I get back.

“Where is your ring?”

I look down at my bare left finger and stay quiet.

          When he kills the engine at the parking lot of my conference center, I don’t know exactly how I feel. I nod as he opens the car door for me. With one last look I climb out of the car and give him a tight hug. I look back as I open the glass door to the conference room and he’s standing against his car, hands in his pockets, watching me. The blink from his car as he presses on the remote in his hand breaks my heart.

*****

          I spend another night on the couch, but this time I don’t sleep. I stare at the floor, my hands, the picture of Attah hanging on top my television. Anything to keep my mind off the utter mess my life has become and the never-available-anymore soldier I’m supposedly engaged to. It’s over two weeks now since I returned from Lagos and Mona and I have not as much as spend two consecutive days together.

          As I stare more intensely at the tiled floor, I remember that fateful day my phone rang continuously only to pick up and hear,

“I am sorry, I couldn’t resist the temptation to stalk you.”

          From the tone, I could guess who it was. The groomsman that followed me everywhere for my number during my church member’s wedding and reception ceremonies. I wondered how he got my number but who was I kidding? How hard could it be?

“So, was wondering if I can take you out for lunch? There’s this exquisite bakery in Bodija, run by Chinese guys. Hear they’re really good.”

I rolled my eyeballs on my seat.

          During the lunch, he wouldn’t stop talking. He is Mona by name, a military officer. He joined the military to protect his mother and sister and the country and a dear friend and all the very many things people shouldn’t spill on a first date. When he probably noticed the fatigue in my eyes, he mellowed down.

“So ehm… aside photography, what else do you do?”

Like photography is not job enough or? I let the thought slide. “I am a mother.” I say. “I have a beautiful little boy.”

“Wow!” Mona sat on the edge of his seat. “You don’t look like you’re married.”

“I didn’t say I was married.” I cut in.

“But…” he started and cautioned himself. “Oh, I get it.” He rubbed his palm against each other vigorously. “Are you still with his father though?”

I eyeballed him coldly. He’s been making me do that a lot. “No.”

          I watched him let out a sigh of relief. Not good. Telling him about my son so early was to chase him away because I wasn’t ready for any level of closure. I mean, who desires to marry a single mother these days? But I was wrong.

“So I get to meet your little prince charming soon, huh? Hope he likes me.”

I left my mouth ajar in amazement.

The mere fact that Mona wasn’t in the least bothered about what bothered me, that all he wanted was just to be with me, regardless, was amazing.

           Ayegba and I had been talking quite too often since I left Lagos. When he texted me last night, I wanted to cry. Not just for me, but for Mona too. Through everything that has happened, everything that I’ve done wrong, no one stopped to consider his feelings. I should have put him first. He’s the one who’s been with me in the last five years, even before we started dating officially. He’s been there for Attah.

And now he’s suffering because of my inability to see past Ayegba. I never thought I would find Ayegba again.

But he’s here and he makes me feel things I haven’t felt since I stopped thinking about him. Maybe I never truly stopped. Maybe I just masked my feelings. I like Mona, but not the same way I love Ayegba. Ayegba was my first everything, but that’s not enough to give up on Mona.

My phone buzzes and begins to ring.

“Babe.” I mutter through clenched teeth.

“That was fast. You don’t sound like you just woke up. It’s barely six a.m. baby. Everything alright?”

I clear my throat to buy time enough to draft the most convincing response. “It’s Attah’s game later today. Working on somethi…”

“Oh my God! I totally forgot.” Mona groans so loud I remove the phone from my ear.

Taking in deep breaths, I replace it. “No worries, babe. Moreover, you’re far away in the North and not due back until two days.”

“Damn it!” his reply is hoarse. He has to cough a few times to clear out his throat. “Oh no.”

“No worries, babe. Plus, Ayegba would be there to watch his game, so Attah would not…”

“Ayegba?” Mona exclaims.

I close my eyes and bury my head in my palms. Oh no! I should not have said that.

“When did you make this arrangement?”

“Oh no… no… I mean, yes,” I stammer, trying to gather myself. “It’s not an arrangement really, babe. He… he just happens to be around town… and ehm… just coinci…”

“It’s okay, baby. My regards to him.” Mona says on a note of finality. I swallow against a tightening on my chest. “I love you, Ile.”

“I know, babe.” My tone is light, easy.

He doesn’t say anything for half a minute before the call goes dead.

****

         Attah has one more game before his season is done and Ayegba has kept to his promise of being here.

Ayegba. I don’t know what to do about him. Sometimes I wish he hadn’t come back or seen Attah. I think things would be much easier, but then Attah wouldn’t know his dad. And I think that every kid should know their parents given the chance. I don’t want him all grown up with no memories of his dad.

          Attah and Ayegba run towards me, rosy-cheeked and dirty. Attah is more than excited to have Ayegba around for his game.

“Mum, I got the bronze.” Attah hurls a metallic object at me and thankfully, I catch it.

“Congratulations, honey. You know I’m so proud of you.”

“It’s my gene.” Ayegba says coyly and I give him a hard nudge. Whatever.

“So what’s next?”

“Let’s grab something from the canteen, eat it in the car and chat with Attah for a few minutes.” I say.

         Everyone is cool with my suggestion so we flow in the direction of the canteen, Attah and Ayegba hand-in-hand. This is the kind of bond Mona has been dreaming to build with my kid over the years. He wanted Attah to see him as a father, a father who’s always available for his child. Instead, Attah continually calls him Uncle.

“Uncle Mona!” Attah’s voice slices through the fleshy part of my auditory canal.

         I struggle to be sure I am not hallucinating. Then I notice my boy running in between the teaming crowd to a not-so-faraway place. Maybe I need spectacles at this point because the man with arms widely open to receive my son on that end sure looks like Mona.

Ayegba and I glance at each other. My eyes swearing to him that I am as confused as he is.

          Mona puts Attah on his shoulders as they both approach us. He pulls me into his arms, slipping his hands underneath my jacket. “Surprised?” I push him away softly, but he holds me tight. “I miss you so much and thought to pull a surprise stunt when you talked about Attah’s game this morning. You see how much I love you, Ile?” He asks against my cheeks.

Uneasiness fills me as I blink, motioning him to Ayegba who’s just standing and staring.

“Hey buddy.”

They reluctantly shake hands.

Ayegba turns to me. “Let me get the things.”

“I want to follow my daddy.” Attah says from his position on Mona’s shoulders, wriggling himself to come down.

Mona doesn’t take his eyes away from me as he lets Attah down in a haste.

“Uncle Mona, what should my daddy and I get for you?”

        At this point, I wish the ground can just open up and swallow me. Worse still, Attah doesn’t even notice the tension in the place. He’s just running his sharp mouth. When Mona doesn’t respond to him pronto enough, he clings onto Ayegba’s hand and draws him away, giggling in the process.

        I feel the weight of the nine planets and two new ones on my shoulders when Mona and I are left alone. He looks like death and I can see the corner of his eyes redden. My heart beats so loudly I could hear it over the loud noise in the background.

*****

        I don’t know what I did to deserve the nasty turn my life has taken, but I’d like to know so I can rectify the cluster that has become my life. Mona hasn’t said a word to me since we returned from Attah’s school. At least he kept his calm throughout, not allowing Attah suspect anything. I owe him one for that.

          Ayegba left us before the visiting hour was over. Something about client and work and deadline but I know it’s all a lie. He wanted me to sort my issues out with Mona without his interference.

          Anyone who hears this story will probably brand me a harlot. I ran away on finding that I was pregnant for a boy I loved. He abandoned me all these years, but he didn’t know about the baby or he wouldn’t have. I gave him no clue as to where to find me. Ayegba loved me then, unconditionally. From the story he told me about his life over the last decade, I know he did everything humanly possible to find me.

Destiny is such bullshit.

          My frustration level is reaching an all-time high. I think I need a vacation. Someplace tropical and warm with white sandy beaches and water so blue you look like you’re floating in a crystal clear sky. I can close my eyes and feel the warmth on my skin, the sand between my toes and the ocean, its waves calming me with a sweet lullaby.

          A place like that calls for a lover’s getaway. I can see myself and Mona sharing the day going through a photography album, reading together while he sways us back and forth, gently. I’ll hug him tightly and he will look into my eyes, tell me that he loves me.

Only it’s not Mona I see when I look into the eyes staring back at me.

It’s Ayegba.

          A sound of glass shattering behind me sends my heart flying to the floor. I freeze as my eyes meet a strange man, an enraged Mona. He holds the second flower vase and smashes it hard against the wall.

“Stop it, Mona.” I yell, crying.

He picks up a throw pillow and slams it hard against the windowsill continuously. I don’t know what to do. I press my fingers into my temples, willing away the pressure to move near the wounded lion. I caution myself. He could strangle me to death in this state.

“I can explain, babe.”

“Don’t!” Mona shushes me, raising his first finger to the sky.

“I didn’t know how to tell you, babe.” I say with a pleading tone.

“Oh! Ile… no… sorry, Vee…” he lets out a sarcastic laughter that’s not funny actually. “You were Ayegba’s Vee? The one that made him almost lose his mind. He could have died from inability to concentrate on anything else since you ran away from him. And he didn’t even know you were with his child o. What if he’d known? Ha… why is life so harsh?” His voice cracks but he tries to be a man.

“What am I supposed to do now, Ile… Vee or whatever you’re now called? No… tell me! What am I supposed to do now? This heart of mine doesn’t have a home without you there. God damn it!! I knew something wasn’t right from the very moment Ayegba came visiting. I just had the confidence that my babe will tell me if there was a cause for alarm. I didn’t know you were the alarm in itself.”

“I can explain better. We need to talk, Mona. Please?” I plead.

“What? We already talked.” He cut in, shutting me up. “Better still, you already talked. Now I need you to listen.”

He drops into the settee and motions me to come take a seat. Afraid, I sit, turn and face him, bringing my knee up underneath me.

“Please, don’t fight with your friend.” I begin, careful not to say the wrong things, especially now. “Look how far you both have come. Fighting with Ayegba will not be fair to Attah. I know I screwed things up when I made the decision to tell Attah about Ayegba without telling you first, but what’s done is done. I can’t change it anymore. We have to accept that Ayegba is part of our lives now and just move forward.”

Mona brings my hand to his lips and kisses it. “Yeah. We all should just forget the past and move forward. Yes. That’s why we’re moving.”

         I look at Mona, dumbfounded. I know my ears must be deceiving me. His base is here and I am in the process of expanding my shop. There’s no way in the world I’m moving.

“Excuse me, what did you just say?” my voice catches in my throat. I can barely breathe.

“Well, the truth is, I have been transferred and we’re going to my new base in Sokoto.” I can tell from the look on his face that he’s serious and he honestly thinks we’re going with him. It is his decision and he didn’t have the courtesy to consult me first. Not like that would change the order from above. My choice in telling Attah about Ayegba is beans compared to this.

“No.” I whisper. I shake my head. I’m not going anywhere.

“It will be good for us. Attah will learn newer and more exciting things.”

I rip my hands out of his and stand. “Attah and I aren’t going, Mona. You don’t decide such a thing for us. Ayegba –“

“I don’t bloody care about Ayegba, Ile. Get that into your skull. I’m taking my family and we’re relocating to Sokoto.”

“No, we are not. Never. You can go, but we’re staying here in Ibadan.”

Mona stands, moving in front of me. “What are you saying?”

I look at the man that’s been my backbone for the past few years. “If you have been transferred, Mona, please go, but Attah and I are staying here. Attah has school and his activities and I’m not going to take him away from Ayegba while they’re building a relationship. And I have my studio. I can’t just leave, I won’t. This… it’s not open for discussion.”

“So that’s it. You’re picking Ayegba over me?”

I shake my head. “No, Mona, I’m picking Attah.”

“I see that you never loved me.” Mona’s voice sounds rather pathetic. I pat my lips to speak but he is swifter. “When you wouldn’t agree to marry me, I knew your heart was with someone else.” He swallows hard. “You’ve never even told me ‘I love you too’ before Ileanwa.”

My eyeballs widen at that confrontation.

“You either nod, smile or in your best of moods say, ‘I know babe’. I will never understand how to make you happy, Ileanwa Victory. Never.”

*****

          Mona has been gone for three weeks. The night he told me he was moving, he left. I don’t know where he went. Needing a distraction I went to the studio the next day, even when I don’t open on Sundays. When I came to his apartment in the evening, his stuff was gone. I hurried back to my own house and when I walked into my bathroom and his shaving cream and toothbrush were missing, I felt his absence.

        I miss Mona. I miss the laughter, his comfort and how I felt when he held me. My heart is not broken. I haven’t sat and cried except for the night he left. How I feel is not fair to him. He did the right thing by leaving. He saved us this way. I just want to know if he’s okay.

         With Christmas around the corner, the studio is studded with different customers seeking to have a photo of themselves. I have been wondering if there’s a laid down rule that everyone must have a recent photograph before each year ends. Not that I’m complaining about having customers, but I need additional set of hands right about now.

“Merry Christmas, Grandma Dupe.”

“Oh, Merry Christmas, Ileanwa. I just love all the beautiful backdrop designs you set up in your studio during the holidays. You do such an amazing job with your decorations and photographs. Why I always insist you must be the one to take my pictures.”

“Thank you, Ma. So how many minutes session have you booked for today’s shoot?”

“One hour, Ma’am.” Ify calls out from behind her.

An hour? What sort of photos will this old woman be taking for an hour?

“Alright, let’s get you glammed, grandma.” I motion her to the dressing room where a make-up artist, a stylist and a guy that ties exceptional gele styles are always on set and ready to work.

          I leave the studio room, my camera hanging down my chest as I head for my office. The editing room is crowded with customers waiting on the edited copies of their photos. In the reception, towards the entrance, there’s a tall lady walking towards Ify’s empty desk, so I hesitate.

“Hi, excuse me, are you Victory Monday?”

“I am,” I say as I try to sort out the numerous brown envelopes scattered all over Ify’s desk. They’ll soon call me back into the studio to photograph Grandma Dupe so the lady had better be quick. Grandma Dupe is one of my regulars, always needing different recent photographs to send to her numerous children and grandchildren abroad.

         The new customer just stands there not speaking so I continue to sort the envelopes. After a few minutes, she drops her bag down on the desk. Her sunglasses hold her hair back and I look quickly outside for any hint that the sun has come out and see none. Tourists always make themselves easily noticeable.

“Can I help you?” I ask when I could wait no more.

“I thought we could talk,” she says.

I have to look at her again to make sure I don’t know her from anywhere. I don’t.

“Do you want to make an appointment for a wedding shoot because we’re fully booked for the rest of the year, or is it for something else?”

She smiles when I mention wedding shoot, she must be in love. “Somehow I don’t think my man will appreciate it if I made wedding plans without him.”

“You would be surprised. Most don’t care.”

We laugh. She’ll soon learn that guys just nod and say ‘okay, whatever you want, baby’. I pull out my appointment book and look at the nearest available opening. February.

“We don’t really need to meet. I just wanted to give you this,” she hands me an envelope – it’s sealed and fairly light. I look at the return address. It’s some lawyer in Lagos. “By the way, I am Shakira Makanjuola.”

“Thanks,” I say, setting it aside.

“Aren’t you at least interested in what I just handed you?” she leans on the desk, her long purple nails catching my attention. Her twisted smile is devious, as if she’s planning something harsh and I’m the tail end of the joke.

          I pick up the envelope and pull the flap open. Taking out the papers and reading them carefully, anger boils under my skin.

To be continued.

Today’s POP

  • Do you think Mona made the right decision by leaving?
  • Did Ile do the right thing or what do you think she should have done?
  • What could possibly be in the letter Shakira served Ile?

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About Grace Ochigbo

Grace Ochigbo
Grace Ochigbo is a Christian, storyteller, inspirational speaker and the Founder of Gemstone Sickle Cell Aid Team, a non-profit organizations working to end Sickle Cell Disease. email; ochigbogracious0@gmail.com

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