His lovely slim tie was placed neatly beside his well-starched and ironed white cotton shirt. It wasn’t one of those white shirts that were on the borderline, closer to brown than white. It was pristine, slim fit and expensive too. On the bed, he neatly arranged his black suit and red linen pocket square. His shined shoe was custom made by Stacy Adams, as almost all of the shoes he had, lined up in his 6 tier wooden shoe dresser.
It was the fourth day in his new condo on the island. Life was good, and so was the stock market. Walking into the kitchen, “I can’t believe I have come this far,” he said, amazed at what he had accomplished at age 32. The fridge swung open, and he stood gazing at how much food and drinks it had to offer. Who would have thought that he would ever be this wealthy – no one. “I’d have some fresh milk this morning.” The living room was 90 percent glass. Well, there were no kids, therefore, nothing to worry about. What he loved most was the beautiful view at night. He could lay on the couch and just gaze at the heavens and the beautiful stars, thanks to a special architectural design that replaced the ceiling with transparent glass.
It was shower time. Walking towards the steam shower with jacuzzi bathtub, it made him laugh to think that all he needed to do was walk in there and push a button or several buttons to enjoy a shower of a lifetime. There was a time he had to take a pail and walk outside the house to buy water and then walk back, and probably have a ten-minute rest before he would take his bath. “My mother would be proud of me if she were still alive.” But she wasn’t. She died when he was still very green, a little boy, still trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. It was the tragedy that should have broken him. But he owed everything he had accomplished to the power of transforming pain to gain. He hoped one day, his autobiography would be titled ‘The rose that grew from concrete.’ Standing still at the entrance of the bathroom, he looked up to heaven, “mother, I miss you,” he said. “Your little boy, Cupid, is now the man of your dreams.”
Cupid had been named after that little-winged-guy with the bow and arrow who flew around trying to get innocent folks minding-their-business to fall in love. How cruel? Cupid had once been so ashamed of his name that he swore to have it changed as soon as he was old enough to stand before a judge and take an oath. Then he could call himself something normal like – Monday, or Friday. It was evident he had a poor taste for names. But it was difficult not to imagine how different life would have been if his father loved his mother enough to have been there for her when she got pregnant at 18. Yes, she was stupid and a trusting juvenile who wanted to believe that she was loved by a handsome man who had big biceps and flattered her with words and occasionally handed her a box or two of chocolate. But he lacked a big heart and would disappear before even the second trimester when her stomach would start to show signs of carrying a baby. Despite being forsaken with a seed of life already planted in her womb, Cupid’s mother never stopped believing that true love was meant to last forever, even if it was not with her baby’s runaway father.
It was a warm, refreshing bath. Cupid greased his hair and perfumed his body till he smelt like an Ambassador for the Clive Christian brand. While staring at the mirror, Cupid kept thinking that if he resembled his father, then the man must have been a handsome fella. The last time he had heard of his father was before he turned 21, that was in his second year in the University. Kelechi ‘Nwokeoma’ Orji, Cupid’s father, had been as unstable as the ship tossed by the wind. One day he was impersonating Fela Kuti and trying out his musical talent. The next, he was an aspiring professional footballer or stand-up comedian. Then at some point in his life, he was also a wealthy Nigerian prince whose father had oil wells in Olobiri, diamond fields in Sierra-Leone and had left him enormous wealth. Such was the opulence that he couldn’t spend the cash alone, so he needed a white friend who knew how to spend money to share in his fortune. But they always had to pay a little price, the wealth sharing processing fee. “Good riddance,” Cupid said out loud while thinking about his father. He wasn’t bitter but was ashamed that his father wasn’t man enough to take responsibility for the baby he created. “Who does that?” he asked himself.
No chauffeur. No maiguard. No house maids or man servants dragging their feet and responding with ‘yes oga’ and ‘no master’ every time they are called upon. No chef who specialized in intercontinental and local dishes wearing a long awkward cap and eating half the food he cooks. It was just an architectural-master-piece of a house filled with state-of-the-art gadgets, all belonging to an independent young man who was on a mission – a mission to help everyone he could, fall in love.
Cupid took the elevator to the ground floor. Not many houses in Lagos had elevators. But this house was like a fine-tuned machine. There was a fleet of cars parked outside, a few meters away from his Olympic-size swimming pool. He was one who enjoyed the BMW and Bentley brand and had not missed acquiring a new model in almost 5 years. “Let’s get going baby,” Cupid said, talking to his car as he turned on the ignition and hit his foot on the accelerator.
The traffic was jammed. It seemed like a billion vehicles ahead and a million behind. “Eko o ni baje,” Cupid whispered several times as he tried to keep calm. It was hard to understand why Lagos still did not have bullet trains, and subways, and road networks that looked like a puzzle when viewed from the sky. But it is what it is – that’s why the country was still classified as third-world. The rickety buses that looked like they were a death trap, falling apart, and emitting fumes that could kill faster than cigarettes, was considered the primary source of moving people around the busy city. Reaching for the auto-tuning button of the car radio, Cupid searched for something to listen to while the traffic moved at the speed of a turtle. “It’s good to be your own boss in this kind of city.” He had no need to clock in or out at work. No one would subpoena him for coming late. Cupid wasn’t one to be considered lazy in any form. There was no staff at the office that could keep up with his work rate, not even his best pal, Sam, the co-founder of the firm they started back in the university.
Cupid had met Sam back in a reading club in the University. Sam was shy and looked like a nerd of the first order. But he had a heart that was larger than life and always wore a gracious smile. There was something magnetic about him that attracted Cupid. It wasn’t any of the virtues he had, but his name.
“Hey, I’m Cupid.”
Sam lifted his head up to stare at the figure standing in front of him. His eyes seemed to take some time to really focus through the thick glasses he wore which looked like binoculars. “I’m Sam, and it’s good to meet you.”
“This is my first day. How long have you been a member of this club?”
Sam smiled. “I started the club in my first year. That would be precisely 2 years and 3 months ago,” he said, somehow feeling impressed with what he had accomplished. He had extraordinary organizational skills that had proved critical to the growth of the club. They had by-laws and identity cards, and now they could boast of a library that housed a reasonable number of books. Sam’s reading club had hosted special key speakers who would motivate the club members on academic excellence. The best students from almost all the departments were solid members of this book club, and that was what had aroused an interest in Cupid to have fellowship with them.
“So, I’m standing in the presence of greatness?” Cupid said, reaching out his hand to shake Sam, who was already having a spell of shyness.
“Good to meet you, sir,” Sam replied.
“It’s good to meet you too, Samuel,” Cupid responded.
“My name isn’t Samuel.”
“Not close,” Sam replied, looking at Cupid as if he expected him to keep guessing all evening.
Samanja? Samantha? Samaria? Samaritan? Sample? What in the world could the full name be, Cupid thought.
“It’s Samosa.” A shocking reply it always was whenever he told anyone. Usually, it took a few seconds for the individual’s brain to process the name, and then, “what does your name mean?” would follow suit for those who had no idea what the name meant. Others would laugh at the thought of such a name.
“I was named after a snack. Funny?” Sam asked, expecting Cupid to laugh hard, and mock too.
“There must have been a good reason your parents chose to name you after a snack. Of all things in this world, you were named after something we fry and eat. Well, I was also named after some little fictional myth that carries a bow and arrows-of-love, purposefully trying to get people to fall in love even without their consent. It’s good to meet you, bro.” Cupid went ahead to give another warm handshake to Sam, and that was how the friendship began.
The roads were getting cleared up as most commuters seemed to get to their place of work. So, Cupid was able to step on the accelerator for longer periods and not on-and-off for every few seconds as he had been doing for over 30 minutes. “Eko o ni baje,” he repeated endlessly, still amazed at how a journey of about 30 minutes would take more than an hour.
Arriving at the parking lot, Cupid was greeted by two neatly dressed security guards who would easily pass for staff of the DSS or CID operatives. That was the kind of culture he had created in the work environment. Excellence. Stepping out of the car, he took a moment to admire the beautiful building that he called his second home. “Whoever said crazy dreams couldn’t come true has probably never met me.”
An insignia was boldly displayed on the building – Cupid and Sam Inc. What started as a hobby back in the university, was now listed on the Lagos stock exchange and was worth more than some of the ‘serious-minded’ companies which found the idea – ridiculous – that an organization should have one sole purpose – to promote love, just the way it should be.
The idea for Cupid and Sam Inc. had been conceived by Cupid just a few months after he had met Sam at the book club. The idea was Cupid’s, but he knew that if Sam was able to grow a successful book club on a campus where more people would rather go to a party than read a book, then he could be of help in growing the brand. Cupid explained the concept to Sam, and once the vision was clear, magic was born. Cupid and Sam Inc. kicked off with just a website that offered blind dates to students who wanted to find love. Cupid took the time to go through the files of every applicant, and he would match them perfectly, with the aim that they could fall in love after a first date. And this matchmaking was for a fee too. That lie that love doesn’t cost a thing only works in the movies.
The success stories led to more participants, and that also led to more money and a demand to expand their vision, the vision to ensure that everyone finds true love. Sam’s club seemed to motivate students to read. But Cupid’s idea was where the money was at. Cupid offered Sam an opportunity to be a partner after they had been out of the University and that was how they kept building on a dream that had been birthed by the horrors of being raised by a single mother who had to juggle between being a man and well as a woman. No one should have to endure that – if they found real love… That was the conclusion that Cupid had come to after many years of being considered a misbegotten son.
“Good morning, sir!”
“You look lovely today, sir.”
“MD sir, you are sharp as usual.”
Compliments was a daily lifestyle that Cupid had had to live with working with a fantastic team of young people he had hired to fulfill his mission. “Hey! It’s good to see you all today again,” he responded and walked past the guest reception point, taking the elevator to the top floor where his office and that of Sam were adjacent to each other. Walking into his office, “Hey!” he greeted his secretary who was munching on a homemade burger – some fried eggs, four slices of fresh tomato and a few green leaves cramped between two slices of bread that had been heated in the microwave. It was against the work culture that was demanded, and his secretary, Onyinye, knew that very well, so she almost choked when he walked in.
“Good morning, sir,” she quickly replied, drinking some water. The greeting was laced with fear.
“Hey! Onyi, why is guilt choking you this early beautiful morning?” Cupid asked with a smile that was reassuring enough to let her know that her sin was forgiven even before she would ask for mercy.
“It’s good to have you around, Boss,” Onyi said. “You look stunningly handsome today,” she added.
“So, It’s only today?”
“No, sir,” Onyi replied, laughing at his comment. “You know you look amazing every single day. I mean, who compares to my boss?”
Cupid’s entire face smiled. It wasn’t the compliment, but the fact that he and his staff treated each other with such love and respect as if they were all siblings. But even the most knit families still had to have disciplinary measures to keep everyone in check. This family was no different. ‘Let’s laugh, love and play. But let’s work, respect and honor each other too.’ That was the code of conduct by which everyone had agreed to work by when they were hired. They all signed a document that suggested they would comply with the code of conduct. It was like signing your death warrant with your own pen and by your own hand, some people thought. But Cupid realized that the more staff they hired, the more likely that the culture they had maintained from inception would erode. Every wise CEO would know that too.
“Boss, boss number two checked in on you earlier. Want me to ring him up?”
Cupid laughed. “I have told you severally not to call Sam – boss number two. the day he would overhear you… like Pilate, I would wash my hands and even dry them with a designer napkin right in front of you.” Cupid walked into the office and dropped his briefcase. “Call Sam and let him know I’m around,” Cupid screamed from inside his office, and then he realized he could have just made use of the intercom without straining his voice. “Also, finish up your breakfast in the kitchen,” Cupid added, and then he walked over to the water dispenser to get a drink. “To thirst is human, but to quench it has to be divine. Thank God for water. And air, and food and everything too,” he said and then sat down, ready for another busy day of matchmaking, counseling, and coaching. Only level-one cases were assigned to Cupid. This had to be a serious case, one that none of the interns, or staff, or even Sam was able to handle. The big dawg, Cupid, was always willing to take such cases. And It was for big money too.
“Hey, brother, good morning,” Sam greeted Cupid over the phone.
“What’s up buddy?”
“I’m doing good. Got a case for you. It’s the first case I have ever categorized as – hopeless.”
“Is the case hopeless, or is it the person?” Cupid asked, laughing at the way Sam had given up on the case before he even handed him the file of this applicant. “Come to my office, let’s talk about it.”
“Alright bud, I’d be with you In a bit,” Sam informed Cupid, and then he went ahead to end the call.
It was just a few seconds walk, and Sam was standing before Cupid. “I’m sure even the great Cupid would reject this client,” he said and handed over the file to the big dawg.
Flipping it open, “Remigus Romanus. Participant is 45 years old, married to a young lady of 23,” Cupid read out. “His name is already very discouraging. But so is your name and mine too,” he added. Raising his index finger in the air, Cupid shook it as if he were a father trying to instruct his little son, “don’t give up yet,” he said.
“The surprises await you bud, keep turning,” Sam responded.
Cupid kept researching through this participant who had sent in his details and filled the required documents. “This guy has not told his wife I love you in a year. And they have been married for a year and one day.”
“That means that the last time he said it – I love you – to his wife, was on the day of their wedding,” Sam said.
“You got that right, bud. This guy has got no romance in his bones.”
“I told you so, maybe just in different words,” Sam said, and then he went ahead to sit down without asking for permission to do so because he was the second most important person in the workforce.
“He doesn’t believe in spoiling a lady with gifts or special treats every now-and-then. He has not surprised his wife since they got married. Romanus also does not think he should do anything else in the marriage except provide for his wife and children when they begin to rear one or more as the case may apply. Can you believe this?”
“No, I can’t,” Sam replied and pulled out his phone from his pocket to respond to a beep sound. When he looked at his screen, his face seemed to lighten up. It was the glow, the kind that Cupid – the love expert – could recognize even in the night when the lights were turned off.
“Who is making you smile?” Cupid asked, direct to the point.
“What? Can’t a brother smile when he wants to?”
“Ok. Yaba left things. I know it’s a lady, anyways, let’s leave that for now. Romanus is killing me with his personality. His wife is on the verge of filing for a divorce. Can’t blame the young lady. How do you stay with such a man and feel like a wife?”
“Cupid, was it an arranged marriage? C’mon! How do you marry someone like this? It’s almost like they are incompatible.”
“You made a valid point, Sam. It could be an arranged marriage or one that had little or no courtship. Nevertheless, he came to us because he needs help. Our duty is to save this marriage, completing ignoring all the obstacles that we can see. Romanus boldly printed on this document that he loves his wife, and that’s all the motivation I need to start this case.” That was not all the motivation, really. Romanus was also going to pay a million naira per day for Cupid’s personal coaching and time, and he had signed off to allow Cupid determine how long would be needed to turn things around. “We could have a brand new man in 3 weeks.”
“That would be 21 million naira in charges, right?” Sam smiled with his eyes, ears and even his broad nose too. “You sure you need only 21 days?”
“You want to drain his bank account?” Cupid asked. “I’d take up his case. Invite him for meeting tomorrow.”
“Ok. My secretary would sort that out.”
“Thanks, bud. Also, please send me a review of all open cases being handled and how much progress has been made on each of them.”
“Your wish is my command.” Sam was a multi-millionaire. He was worth over 55 million bucks, but he was still as passionate as Cupid the Visioneer and CEO who was worth well over a 100 million naira. Sam was loyal to a fault, something Cupid never took for granted.
Cupid had been consulted by politicians, celebrities and a lot of wealthy citizens who needed to have their relationships or marriage saved. Sam was in charge of administration. The guy was born to be an administrator, shikena! Other non-administrative staff handled the matchmaking process which was not as easy as you reading might think. They had to sieve through thousands of profiles, reading so much information just to pair two people they believed were the perfect match for each other. The interns stayed on the phone. Every call had to be answered by a happy young person who could convince the caller that Cupid and Sam Inc. was the one place to find your true love. The search had to end there. The success stories were impressive. From young college students finding love to busy bankers having blind dates arranged for them that ended in ‘I do.’
IT WAS ANOTHER DAY. Cupid had left the house earlier because he had a 9 o’clock appointment with Mr. Remigus Romanus, the hopeless case as judged by Sam. It was a 45 minute nightmarish trip to the office. Cupid had already begun to consider having a helipad on the office grounds. A helicopter wouldn’t be a luxury, but something he needed if he was to remain sane. “Hey!” Cupid greeted and walked past everyone. The usual compliments followed and a warm smile from him too, a motivation his staff needed. “Hope y’all have a great day. Let’s get everyone falling in love.”
“Yes, sir,” was the unanimous response, followed by screams of excitement.
Cupid walked into his office, dressed in a gray suit, putting on a white shirt, a brown shoe and belt. A tie wasn’t hooked to his neck this day. It was Tuesday, a day he could relax on his all out corporate dress code. “Hey! How are you doing?” he asked Onyinye his secretary who was in full ethical compliance today. No sandwiches, or hamburgers, or crackers hid beside her desk.
“My boss, good morning, sir,” Onyinye responded with a grin, her face lit up like she had played the Lagos lotto and was confident that the wheels would turn in her favor.
“Why are you all smiles this morning?”
“It’s a good day. I have got the greatest boss on earth. So, give me one good reason why I should not be this happy?”
Walking into his office, he reached for the blinds, ushering in the sunlight. “I have none. Be happy all you can girl,” Cupid said out loud from his office. “Has Mr. Remigus called in?”
“Not yet. The appointment is for 9:00 am. Guess he might be on the way.”
“Call him and find out if he intends to keep the appointment.”
It was 15 minutes past the hour of 9 in the morning, and Sam ushered Mr. Remigus to the guest room. It was a finely designed room with a wooden floor made from polished mahogany. The walls were designed with pictures of happy couples, a testimony to the success of Cupid and Sam Inc. The furniture in the room was really comfortable, and the atmosphere was that of a café. Nice slow music played In the background while the guest could request for a cup of coffee, a bottle of soft drink or just enjoy the free wifi service offered.
“Hey! Bud… you have a guest,” Sam said over the phone to Cupid.
Cupid cleared his throat. “Mr. Remigus Romanus?”
“Yep, it’s Mr. Lover-boy. And his physical appearance is almost as bad as his profile.”
“That’s why he is paying a million a day,” Cupid responded and stood up to put on his jacket. “Let him know I’d be with his shortly.”
“Dear Lord,” Cupid whispered when he walked into the guest room. Mr. Romanus was seated, dressed in a red trouser and green long sleeve shirt. His stomach was bulging out badly, almost trying to rip its way through his shirt. “Mr. Romanus?”
“Yes, my brother,” was the reply from the guest who had been sweating when he walked in but looked a lot more relaxed.
“I’m Cupid. Your coach.”
Remigus rubbed both palms together and quickly stretched out the right to greet Cupid. “Oh! It’s really nice to meet you,” I have heard a lot of good things about you.”
“My pleasure, sir.”
Cupid looked transfixed on Mr. Romanus’ frame. His Air Jordan snickers rocked. And that was kind of the only thing that was nice about his outfit. It’s was a little funny because he shouldn’t have been wearing snickers on a plain trouser – a red one at that. “I’m glad you accepted to help me.”
Cupid was still in awe for a moment. “We’d take a fight to the devil right in hell – his domain – if we have to, just to save one marriage, or to help two people fall in love. That is what we do,” he replied.
“First things first – today would good for a tete-a-tete, maybe we could watch some soccer and play a few games.”
“I will still pay one million today?”
“Yes, you would,” Cupid said.
“Just like that?” The grief in Remigus’ eyes could be seen from a mile. A local Igbo businessman doesn’t believe in wasting money. This was a scheme apparently planned out by Cupid to drain his pocket, Romanus imagined.
“Do you have any problems with that?” Cupid asked.
“No, nwanne, that’s fine. Could I have a glass of water, please?” Remigus said in a thick accent.
WELCOME to Eko Hotel the teleprompter read as they walked in. The cute and fashion savvy Cupid alongside his client. Taking a seat and offering one to Mr. Remigus, Cupid asked his client to what drink he would like to have.
“Anything is fine.”
“Want to take a look at the menu?”
Romanus looked at his watch for what seemed to be like the tenth thousand time. It was obvious he was more concerned about time than whatever Cupid had in mind by bringing him to Eko Hotel. “Anything is fine,” he repeated, and then he went ahead to gaze at his watch one-more-time.
Cupid smiled. “Are you in love with your watch?” he asked sarcastically to shake him up a little.
“Nwanne, I have a business appointment today.”
“I’d prefer you call me coach. Also, did I forget to tell you to clear up your schedule for the day? I’d decide when you can leave. That didn’t sit down well with Mr. Romanus who was now thinking if it was better just cancel this crap-of-a-meeting and save his money for some other important business adventure he could undertake in Alaba or Idumota market.
“No. It’s coach. Remember?”
“I’m sorry, coach, this meeting is critical,” Remigus said, stretching the word – critical – to emphasize his point.
“Call me Remigus. That is my first name. Or you can refer to me simply as Chief or Okosisi.”
“Ok! Mr. Remigus. I’m sorry, but you would have to reschedule that meeting. You signed an agreement to work on my terms. It’s either you comply with that or…”
“Or what?” was the sharp reply. Flashes of lightning could be seen in Remigus’ eyes.
Cupid laughed out at the venomous reply from his client whose face now looked like a three-day-old sour soup. It was not uncommon to have fights with clients before they would finally get along. He had once had to pepper spray a client in the eye when the conversation got too heated and was about to get physical. A quick apology followed. But the sting in the eye lasted a while and was never forgotten by that client. But it worked. That client is still married to his wife today and has a new born baby to prove that it was worth every minute he had put in to save his marriage.
Cupid was the most tender person at heart. But sometimes he would act like a defense attorney that smelled fear all over a witness during cross-examination. “Or you could walk away. I’d charge you nothing for wasting an hour of my time already,” Cupid said, looking as serious as he could. “Also, no more phone calls.”
The fight was over. “A cold bottle of beer,” Romanus requested.
“No.” Cupid quickly interjected. “Could you request for something soft?”
“We hit the gym tomorrow. Your stomach is a wonderland,” Cupid replied, lowering his voice before taking the jab at the bulging belly.
They spent over Five hours at Eko Hotel, just talking. This was what Cupid usually would call assessment time. There was nothing too personal to be revealed. Every single question had to be answered. And he scribbled important details about the client while they spoke. Now, fatigue had set in. Mr. Remigus was a broken man already on the first day.
“Would you like to have fufu or pounded yam?” Cupid offered.
“Nwanne,” Remigus replied with a smile. “Sorry, coach,” he corrected. “Yes, I dey very hungry.”
“I won’t limit what you can eat. Eat all you can,” Cupid said and handed him the menu booklet.
For a moment, Remigus reacted like a little boy whose father had just offered him a trip to Disney land. “Thank you,” he said to Cupid, euphoric. That was the art of the deal. After 6 hours of what has looked like torture to the client, allow him to have some fun. The fufu and vegetable soup – garnished with liver, kidney, goat meat, cow tail and fried snail – was not what a man with such glorious belly needed. It was still the first day, and Cupid could still give some concession.
The horror of the trip back home surpassed that of the morning. Cupid walked into his domain, the new house he had purchased for 75 million naira. No children running up and down screaming – daddy oyoyo. No gateman standing at attention and saluting with a silly smile. No wife to welcome him with a kiss. No Pets. Just Mr. Save-The-world, all alone. There was no one else to welcome him but the sweet smell of success. Cupid quietly stepped into the elevator, and up he went into his living room. Dropping his briefcase by the glass center table, he reached for the television remote and flipped the channel to TBN, and then to CNN and finally to Super Sports Select. Cupid wouldn’t agree to this in public. But he wished he had a wife. The thought of that made him miss his mother all over again. “Guess sometimes even Mr. Fix it needs to get a fix,” Cupid murmured, and then he reached for his phone and went ahead to buzz Sam.
“Hey bud, how did it go with the client?”
“Not bad. Might be the worst I have had, but the Roman man is not beyond redemption.”
“That’s a nice nickname for him. Give me stats, bro.”
“The marriage was pretty much arranged. His wife knew so little about him and vice versa. Remigus seems to treat marriage like a business. I’ve got to work on his mind. But he loves her very much, and that counts a lot.”
“What’s up for tomorrow?”
“Getting to know him took all of today. Tomorrow, we hit the gym, and then we go over to the barber shop and an excellent boutique and maybe play a few games to get him to loosen up.”
“No one can repay you brother for all you do to save the world. You are Superman!”
“Sometimes I wish I could save myself,” Cupid murmured. “Thanks, Sam. Saving the world – one marriage at a time. That’s what we do.”
“Yeah! Good night!”
“Have a good night, homie,” Cupid said, and then he crumpled into the sofa and just looked out to the night sky. It was beautiful.
Still dressed in his suit and Salvatore Ferragamo shoes, Cupid slowly drifted into slumber land. It didn’t matter how tired he was when he slept, it was certain he would wake up motivated. That was something he had never lacked – motivation.
The next day was warm. The weather report was favorable. A little sunshine to kick-start the morning, more clouds during the day and some rainfall at night. Cupid was up early. Some cereal with a big piece of grilled chicken lap. Busy bachelors don’t cook moi-moi or ofe-nsala in the morning. Ben Tankard spiced the atmosphere with his lovely piano sounds. Heavenly.
A Bentley Flying spur was the car for the day. Tinted glasses with a customized interior, designed to the taste of Cupid. The sound of the engine was tweaked to sound like that of a Harley Davidson motorbike. Cupid was dressed in work-out clothes. Anything Cupid wore always looked good on him.
“Good morning, my boss,” Onyinye replied as always; cheerful and sweet.
“Are you at the office already?”
“In the parking lot.”
“OK. Please call Mr. Romanus and tell him not to come to the office, but to hook up with me at the Proflex Fitness Center.”
“Sure, boss,” Onyinye replied. “Would you drop by at the office today?”
“I would miss you.”
Cupid was silent. It seemed like he was trying to process what she had said. “Really?”
“I’d stop over and drop lunch for you. Refer all pressing issues to Sam. Keep my schedule cleared for the day. Have a great day.”
“Thanks a lot, sir,” Onyi replied and then she hung up.
Cupid had been working out for an hour already when Chief showed up. Without wasting time, he invited him to the thread mill. For starters, the speed was on 2.2, not too slow, but fast enough to burn off some calories far more quickly. Two minutes into the process, Romanus was sweating and squealing at the same time. His phone rang, and he requested for permission to pick the call.
“Nwanne, I dey gym o,” Remigus said, panting like he had competed with Mr. Bolts for the hundred meters title. “O bukwa obere nwanta nwoke n’atam ahuhu o. Umu okorobia Lagos ndia na-eme ka ha anaghi eri akpu.” Romanus kept ranting on the phone and even had sometimes of serious laughter as he talked with the caller. (trans – It’s one small boy that is making me suffer like this o. All these young Lagos boys that would be acting like they don’t eat fufu.)
Cupid waited till he was done talking and then walked closer to him. “Chief, ndewo o,” he said to him sarcastically, just to inform he that he could speak and understand Igbo.
“Nwanne m nwoke, nke bun a ibu nwa afo, gi na-eme ka I bu onye Amerika.” (trans – my brother, so you are a son of the soil and you are behaving like you are from Amerika.)
“You would address me as coach, and not nwanne. No more phone calls. We need to get you in shape. Back to the thread mill.” The sound of Cupid’s voice carried the weight of his title – coach. It was hard not to obey when he spoke. Chief quickly hurried back to the gym and began to burn up the calories. After two hours of working out, a little water break followed and more drills. Chief was sore and whining like a lady, and he kept asking “am I paying one million for today also?” It seemed to him like Cupid was just toying with him. His weight was not the reason why he was here. When were they going to get down to the business of making his wife change her mind about leaving him?
They hit the barber salon next. Remigus’ present haircut would be named – undecided, because it seemed he couldn’t decide if he wanted to have it afro or punk, and baldness was already doing justice to the middle of his head. “Give him something for the new millennium,” Cupid requested from his barber who had a ‘Ph.D.’ in haircuts. After that, they went to the palms to shop for clothes. “Some of the outfits we would buy now would not fit you until you lose some weight. But we would buy them and soon, you would wear them. We would get as many clothes as you need to reset your wardrobe.”
“Who will pay?”
“Your bills are on me,” Cupid replied like a boss.
A few Italian suits. Many polka dot, striped and plain ties. Several pairs of jeans, parkas, mittens and T-shirts. New traditional attires that were more fitting. Shoes, snickers, and boots. It took a while to shop for all the items they wanted, and it cost well over a million to the surprise of Remigus, who for the first time realized that Cupid was legit and not just out to rip him off.
“Now Mr. Remigus, when you get home tonight, I want you to tell your wife – I love you.”
A long stare followed that statement. “Just like that?” Remigus asked.
“Like how?” Cupid replied, clearly not understanding what he had been asked.
“I’ll just get home and tell her I love her? Just like that?”
“Is there supposed to be a carnival before you tell her that you love her?”
“Why are you already finding it hard, before you even try?”
“It’s just that you can’t be telling women that you love them anyhow. They will use your head. Umunwanyi di ike.” (trans – women are powerful)
“This is not any woman. This is the lady you took an oath to protect, to love. You swore before God to be there for her in sickness and in health, and till death… and you can’t tell her that you love her because you are scared that that would make her feel like she was a queen? Is she not meant to be your queen?”
“Nwanne, it’s not that easy,”
“What pet name do you call your wife?” Cupid asked, still stunned that Remigus was having a hard time with his first proper task.
“I call her mummy.”
“What kind of nonsense pet name is that, chief? Is she your mother?” Cupid was dumbfounded that a young wife, a lady of 23 was being called mummy by her husband.
“What then should I call her?” Remigus asked.
“Can’t you call her babe?”
“Is she a baby?” he protested.
“Chief, I’ve seen many people in my life, but idi omimi.” (idi omimi – you are deep)
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Written by : Richard OTI
Image – courtesy – Unsplash