Chief had a delicious sleep for the first time in many months. Technically, sleep should not be qualified with such a term because It is not Nigerian jollof-rice. I know there is a war still ongoing between Ghanaians and Nigerians as to which country holds the bragging rights for the best jollof-rice in Africa. Where were the Ghanaians when Nigerians used the power of jollof-rice to get independence from the British? Or when Nigeria jollof-rice was the biggest source of foreign exchange In the early 60s before crude oil became the black gold? This young generation seems to be clueless about African history.
The sun was rising slowly from the east and its rays brightened up Chief’s room. Never had he been as excited for a new day as he was this morning. It was the spirit of love slowly possessing him. It’s funny how the spirit of love and common sense can’t live in the same person at a time. When love takes over the wheels, common sense gradually recedes. But Mr. Remigus Romanus was still an Igbo man to his bones and his common sense was not going anywhere anytime soon. Young children let love make them stupid. How does someone take out his tuition fee to buy his girlfriend Valentine’s day gift and then he spends the rest of the semester hustling to make up his tuition instead of reading his books. Or explain how a guy spends all night talking to his girlfriend; telling her how the moon revolves around her because she gleams with bright perfection like the sun, but his brain cannot revolve around the simple arithmetic he needs to know to pass an exam. Chief was not cut out for all that poppycock. Back in his heyday, things weren’t as complicated as they have become now. It was this simple:
“I like you.”
“I like you too.”
“I like you.”
“Thank you. God bless you for liking me.”
The first was a green light to meet at the stream and talk about the future. The latter was a polite way of saying – run off. But nowadays, everyone is singing I would give you the world just to see you smile and that’s why love has become more complicated.
“It’s a brown new day,” Chief rejoiced as he got out of bed and was already looking forward to what secrets the day would reveal. Well, if this beautiful Wednesday was going to be like the previous days, then it’s certain to be a home run. Starting the day with songs by the Igbo highlife legend – Morocco was Chief’s favorite way to get motivated. A long-term goal that Chief had pursued since he became Okosisi was to make money to the point that Morocco would notice and mention his name on a track. You might think that’s definitely a useless goal. But if Dee Morroki mentions you in a song, you are a chairman. After that dream was achieved, Chief had purposed to take up another Chieftaincy title as – ego di ka aja 1 of Mbaise. The excitement of the new day quickly flew away as a bird when Chief remembered that this was the third day his business empire would be managed by Afam and Kizito, the two boys he perceived to be possessed by evil spirits. (ego di ka aja – having money like sand)
Chief laid out the outfit for the day – a baggy green trouser with a pink shirt and a decent pair of black leather sandal. “If I wear this thing now, Coopeedi will not let me rest,” he murmured and continued combing through his closet for something Cupid might approve. All the new outfits they had purchased didn’t fit yet. And neither did Chief expect there would be a time in his life he would wear Italian suits with a tie. Cupid just wasted the money on that shopping as far as he was concerned.
“Enyi,” Chief said gruffly. “Come to the house with all the money you and Kizito have made before you go to the market.” (trans – enyi – friend)
“Oga, hold up nke taa bu ogologo,” Afam complained, hoping to escape Chief’s plan to rearrange his day. (trans – the holdup today is lengthy)
“Ok, then come after you lock the shade,” Chief informed him, not in the mood for a debate.
Afam murmured under his breath and then he replied – “Aga m abia ugbu a,” (trans – I will come now)
“Tell Buchi to bring you.” Buchi was a driver Chief could trust. Chief didn’t want to hear that suddenly as Afam was in a molue, the money realized that its destiny was not to be in the bank and so it developed wings and flew. It had happened before in 2016. Kizito was to bring some money to the house and claimed that a man who wore a multi-colored coat and talked with a funny accent had preached to him and after the man prayed for him, he was under the anointing and on waking up, he couldn’t tell where Chief’s money had vanished to. It took two slaps that came from the bottom of Chief’s heart – energized with the anger of the recession – to get Kizito to ‘remember’ all of a sudden where the money might be. “Umuntakiri na-akpa agwa dika ha nwere ogugu isi.” Chief murmured and then he disconnected the call with Afam. “Oh, my buriful wife,” Chief remembered Anurika and wanted to see her face now that he had handled all money related issues. First things have to come first. After all, the money he was making was for his family. (trans – Little children will be acting like they have too much sense)
“Good morning fam,” Cupid greeted, walking to the elevator briskly. He had on a carton colored chino trouser with a Brunello Cucinelli crewneck white T-shirt. “You look good,” he said to Chabria, the IT geek, who seemed to enjoy a moment of reverie, staring at Cupid.
“Thank you, sir,” she replied. It was a fact that she looked good. Chabria was a mulatto chick and a computer geek of the Chloe O’Brian order; a programmer extraordinaire. Her eyes were as beautiful as iridescent waters and her long curly hair was blonde. Standing at 5’11, she had a commanding presence, the face of an angel, a characteristic nose ring and a smile that was magical.
“Hey Chabria,” Cupid called out just before stepping into the elevator.
“Hey Cupid,” she replied walking up to him. There was a first name office culture observed in Cupid and Sam Inc. Nobody was oga or madam or some of those silly titles that people added as a prefix to their name as soon as they climb the first step of the corporate ladder.
“The summit is scheduled for 10:00 am today. Remember?” Cupid asked. The summit was the brainstorming session where new ideas were discussed.
Chabria whipped her hair backward, “Yes sir, I have my itinerary drawn up for the day and that is number one priority.”
“That’s good. But we have to reschedule it for an earlier time. What do you have going in the next 15 minutes?”
Chabria quickly pulled out her iPhone from the back pocket. “It’s just 5 minutes past 8:00 am. If you need me, sir, I can clear my schedule. You are the boss.”
“Tell Nelo about the change of time. I’d have Onyinye send you both a mail as soon as I step into my office,” Cupid informed, and then the Mr. Fix it grace seemed to be present all at once. “I notice you had to pull out your phone to confirm the time. Do you have a wristwatch?”
“I had, but-”
“I’d buy you one,” Cupid interrupted.
“You don’t have to, sir,” Chabria replied, hoping he would insist. You have done that before, right? You are hungry and someone offers to take you to Chopsticks for lunch, and you decline but keep hoping the offer is made one more time. It’s called – forming.
“Have I given you a gift before?” Cupid inquired.
“Yes sir,” Chabria replied in a beautiful Afro-American accent. “You sent me to Maldives for my 25th birthday. You gave me a million Naira for Christmas shopping last year.”
“Oh, I did that in my capacity as the head of the organization. But I would like to get you a wristwatch. Consider that a personal gift… and thank you for all that you do for Cupid and Sam Inc.” Cupid walked into the elevator and then he hit the button, for a ride to the top floor. Chabria just couldn’t wrap her mind around how Cupid could be this charming, handsome, nice, special, kind, loving, an excellent leader but single at the same time. Then she smiled at the thought that he had no ring on his finger because she had none on hers too.
“My boss,” Onyinye quickly saluted and stood at attention as Cupid walked into the office. “Good morning.” She added with so much enthusiasm. The dinner they had last night was something she was still very much grateful for.
“Onyi, I had no idea I was now a military General,” Cupid queried, shaking his head while walking into his office. “A full salute for a bloody civilian like me. Haba!” he informed and went ahead to open the blinds and turn on the air conditioner.
“You are our General, sir.” Onyinye’s eyes couldn’t keep a secret and Cupid could see all that it was saying. But there were things Onyinye wouldn’t understand even if he tried to explain them. If he was to date her, then she would have to be fired. Being a multi-millionaire, Cupid knew that Onyinye wouldn’t need to work and losing her job wouldn’t bother her either. But his heart had been scarred before; the wounds remained fresh even after several years. That was the one place the physician needed to heal himself because he had helped many others out of the same deep pits he was helpless to get himself out of. But the entire world still needed to be saved first and the selfless Cupid wanted to make it a better place for everyone.
“Ok. Call the Seargent’s office and find out if he is on seat already. If he is, tell his secretary I need to see him right away.”
“What rank is Sam?”
“Oh, boss number two?” Onyinye smiled and then proceeded to laugh. “Ok, I’d ring his office right away.”
“Thank you for calling, this is the Administrator’s office. Sharon speaking, how may I help you?”
“Sharon, please is Sam around?” Onyinye asked.
“Yes, Sam has been in for about 20 minutes now.”
“Ok. Please let him know that the Chief Executive Officer needs him over here asap.”
In ten minutes, Nelo, Chabria, and Sam were all sitting In a circle, breathing in the same frigid air and sipping on coffee or hot chocolate. Nelo was the chief business strategist and the reason the organization was outperforming even some heavyweight banks.
“I had a eureka moment yesterday,” Cupid said, allowing his words to create an anticipation. And then he said nothing else for about two minutes, arousing their curiosity.
“Cupid, you know we can’t wait to hear the next big goal, don’t leave us hanging.” Sam had been in such meetings for many years since their University days. He could easily testify of the crazy ideas that had changed lives, saved marriages and had helped countless people find love. In Sam’s mind, Cupid was nothing short of a genius.
“I want a partnership with match.com and eharmony.com. Of all the players in the love business, our success stories are the highest and most remarkable. And this is because we match the right people instead of pairing based on a random algorithm. and the metrics are so clear that Time magazine wants me on the front cover of an episode with the caption – Africa’s Cupid. We make it a human-human experience and not human-machine like these other competitors do. If we can foster a merger of some sort with them, they would have an inroad to the African market and we would sail smoothly into the American and European market.”
“How can we make this a reality?” Nelo asked, already feeling stoked.
“I’d like you to scrutinize the merger from a business perspective, Nelo. I want a game plan on how we could achieve this. It could drive our revenue up by 10 billion Naira before the year ends. Sam, I want you to do an analysis and give me a feedback on how many new portfolios and staff would be needed if we pulled off this deal. Lastly, Chabria, I want you to think big. I expect us to have about half a million new clients in 6 months from the time this deal goes live. I want to know what it would take to have an upgraded multi-server and data bank room that could cater for that many new participants.”
CHIEF was walking on sunshine nothing could keep him down, there were springs in his steps. It was Christmas in April, and a good day to be alive. Kizito had just dropped off N1,450,000 for the sale of two days and that was cause for the chief to smile temporarily until he remembered that Cupid billed a million per day. The frown didn’t last long because he remembered the feeling of the previous night; it was unique and beautiful. Butterflies were rumbling in his belly for the first time. He was yet to see his wife this morning because she had not come out of her room, and neither had he too until Kizito shouted “Kpoi Kpoi!” severally while standing beside the front door. Chief was irritated by the repeated loud bang on the door, “Ina eme ka savage,” he informed Kizito as he opened and saw him standing. (trans – you behave like a savage)
“Garbage?” Kizito asked looking bewildered. He neither knew what either of the two words meant.
“Onye iberibe,” Chief replied and rolled his eyes. “Instead of going to school, you are hia chasing money.” See how the pot suddenly turns on the kettle and calls it black. Chief only had enough education to determine a profit and a loss. He had been to school for a while and then he decided that his destiny was not going to be decided in a classroom by a teacher who had a bicycle and spoke English through his nose. Who BODMAS or Pythagoras theory epp? So, the money chasing began at the age of twelve, and by the time he was 21, Chief was already a millionaire and had never regretted quitting school until he met Cupid. Cupid was the first man he had met who was so charismatic, charming, well-spoken, handsome, educated and made of money. Chief was very rich but not as opulent as Cupid. And It was obvious he was handsomely-challenged, lacked charisma, and everything else that should have made him an eye candy.
Shaking his head and stretching out his hand, “give me the money,” Chief demanded hurriedly, his eyes rotating around the living room viciously as he kept hoping his wife would not suddenly walk out of the room when he was collecting the cash. They weren’t on the best of talking terms but that had never stopped her from collecting money from him whenever she could.
CHIEF WAS all smiles as he walked through the doors of Cupid and Sam Inc. He was really expecting a lot from his appointment with the Big Dawg.
“Would you like to have muffins or cookies with a drink while you wait, sir?” The handsome suited up young man asked his guest.
Chief first looked at the good-looking guy from head to toe and it astounded him because every staff of Cupid and Sam Inc. was pretty smart and good-looking. Even the houseboy is wearing a suit and can speak good English? Chief thought.
The cookies and muffins looked really nice but that was not chief’s kind of thing. Maybe his wife would enjoy such but not Okosisi, a red cap chief. “Do you have ugba or beer?” he inquired. (ugba – an Igbo special delicacy)
“No sir, we just have soda, coffee, and water.”
“That’s a term for drinks that contain carbonated water sir,” The receptionist replied.
“Oh, is mineral you are calling soda?” Chief tried to educate him.
“Yes sir, mineral,” the young man replied, trying not to laugh so that his guest wouldn’t feel embarrassed. How does Fanta or Coke resemble crude oil or zinc the receptionist kept thinking.
“Butu why will you people be serving sugar-drink to someone like me? You don’t know that too much sugar is not good?”
“It’s just something that goes with the corporate atmosphere. Nothing meant to despise your drinking preferences, sir.”
Chief laughed as if he understood everything the young man had said. “Oyibo! Onye bekee,” he replied with a smile. “Coopeedi! Coopeedi! Even your houseboy is behaving like you,” Chief said under his breath before he cussed out Kizito and Afam in Igbo for not having common sense.
Cupid ended the meeting as soon as he was Informed that Chief was in the building. The client is king and should be treated as such. That’s a solid principle that lots of organizations had shelved as soon as they started making profit in 6 digits. But Cupid and Sam Inc. capitalized on treating their customer like King to build their brand. “Hey Onyi, I’d be out of the office most of today. All urgent issues should be referred to Sam. If Sam is not on seat, give me a call only if you need to.”
“Yes, boss,” was the swift response from Onyinye who was already sad because she was going to spend the day all alone again without the warm smile and often light humor from her charming boss.
The waiting room was so cozy with snug sets of upholstery and relaxing music such that Chief began to sleep. Doesn’t the DJ know that you can’t play Celine Dion in the day time under such circumstances and not attract the spirit of sleep?
“Chiefo!” Cupid called out, excited to see the Roman man again.
Chief opened his eyes; they were red and protruding and for a second he looked confused as if unsure of where he was. “Coopeedi,” he almost screamed out in excitement before yawning and then reaching out for a handshake. “Nwanne, idi charp.” (trans -my brother, you are sharp)
Cupid was all smiles because there was something about chief he just seemed to love. “I know I look sharp, thank you, sir. But no Igbo for the rest of the day. We need your lingo updated.”
“Coopeedi, idi savage!”Chief was the most stubborn client Cupid had worked with and now It seemed the Roman man had picked up a new word – savage.
“Nwanne, My brother, it’s a brown new day. Ayam very happy.”
“Ha! Chiefo, idi omimi,” Cupid replied, forgetting that he had just put an embargo on Igbo for the rest of the day. “Chief you are having a negative influence on me,” Cupid said, laughing hard. “And chief why are you wearing Isiagu instead of spandex? We are going to the gym and not the New Yam festival. Remember this… always dress for the event.” (Isiagu – a traditional Igbo outfit, idi omimi – you are deep)
“Always dress for the event,” chief repeated like an obedient child that didn’t want to forget the instructions of his father.
“But you look and smell good.” Cupid gave him a pat on the back. “I like the fact that you have begun to use the perfume we bought.”
Chief was thankful for the warm compliment. No one had ever told him he smelled or looked good since he was born and could tell the difference between profit and loss. Well, he had never told anyone that they looked or smelled good either. ‘Idi charp’ is a poor substitute for you look and smell good; just the same way ‘love ya’ is a poor substitute for ‘I love you!”
The experience at the gym was expected to be more fruitful than the previous, but Chief’s appetite needed to be tamed. It wouldn’t profit much if after burning some calories, you put three times the amount you got rid of back in your system. “Chief, I have a list of foods you might need to cut down on temporarily if we are to reach our goal.”
Chief’s face straightened out immediately and the ball of pounded yam that was wrapped in ogbonno soup almost got stuck in his esophagus. “Coopeedi, you have said I should not be drinking beer. What again? Nna mehn, you can give someone trouble.”
“You need to cut down on the carbs,” Cupid bluntly told him. “Pounded yam, fufu, garri, beer, rice-”
“Coopeedi, kill me.” Chief rolled his eyes at Cupid like a woman in labor who was being asked if she wanted to drink pepper soup or eat shawarma.
The art of the deal was always something Cupid could leverage on when trying to make things work out. “Chief, how about we cut it down for only two weeks and few days? After that, you can eat anything you want to eat. But for now, I need your protein levels up.”
“Mba! No. Who told you beer, pounded yam or rice does not have protein?” Chief was suddenly a seasoned food nutritionist.
“Chief, if you pay 21 million for three weeks and we don’t meet our goal, how would-”
“Nwanne, tell me what you want me to be eating.” The thought of missing out on the prize after paying twenty-one million was not something Chief could live with. There was no telling how much profit he could get from that in just a month.
But Cupid knew that if he could get Chief to focus on the goal ahead, then the joy of victory would be so sweet that he would cause him to keep up with the lifestyle that helped him win back his wife. “I’m not asking you to completely leave out eating carbohydrate, but I want you to reduce your intake. Your wife is young and she would love you to be in shape. Eat more of protein and vegetables for now. And do you like the new millennium haircut?”
Chief didn’t know how best to respond. The feelings were mixed because the haircut made him look like a young boy although he was not. But on the other hand, his wife seemed to like the haircut because she smiled but wouldn’t laud him. “I can manage the hair,” Chief responded.
“Let’s do something right away. I want you to send your wife a text message and tell her something wonderful about her that captivates your heart.”
“Just like that?”
“We have discussed this before. Why are you twitching?”
“Ok. I cannot spell very well, biko will you help me? (trans: biko -please)
“Sure, Chief,” Cupid replied and reached out to collect his phone. “So, what do you want to say to her?”
“Mummy, alikirim gi very much. Idi biuriful and I don’t want you to go away, please. I like the way you make me feel. When I see you, my heart use to do somehow that I cannot explain. I will buy you anything-” (alikirim gi & idi biuriful – hybrid Igbo – I like you, you are beautiful)
“Are you serious?” Cupid interjected when he heard that line. “You would buy her anything?”
“That is a bad line, okwaya? Before she will ask me to buy her a new car now. Remove that one.” (okwaya – a request for affirmation).
Cupid laughed and kept listening as his client kept talking. Chief, I have typed what I heard your heart say… ‘Baby, you are the queen of my heart. You are beautiful and special. I really do love you more than I have been willing to admit since we got married because I haven’t known how best to express myself. My heart sings every time I look at you and I would give the world to you if I could.’ Cupid knew that chief would decline to read it because he had a poor command of the English language. But he asked politely, “Do you want to read it?”
“No. You can send it.”
Cupid requested for Anurika’s number and then he hit the send button and passed the phone back to Chief. It was less than a minute and a half after the text had been sent, chief’s phone rang. “Hello,” the sweet voice on the other end called out.
“It’s mummy,” Chief whispered to Cupid, his eyes wide open and his nose was slightly expanded due to the shock.
“Who is this? Did you steal this phone?” Anurika demanded to know.
“Mummy, it’s me,” Chief said quietly not knowing what to expect next.
Anurika mistakenly disconnected the call in shock. Chief kept waiting for her to call back but she didn’t. “Coopeedi, what did you write in the message?” Chief demanded to know.
“Chief, read it. It’s only a click away.”
“You know I cannot read very well,” Chief replied, looking somber. Now, education never looked more attractive. It was more than being able to read and write, it was an undeveloped mind that had become a limitation.
“I’ll read it out, Chief.” Cupid read the text slowly so that each word would resound in Chief’s ears. “Did I capture your heart?”
“Thank you!” There was nothing else to say other than that. Sadness wrapped itself around Chief like a turban tightly fitted to one’s head.
“Why are you sad?” Cupid inquired.
“I thought Mummy would be happy to read it.”
“Stop calling her mummy. She is a young girl of 23,” Cupid reminded Chief and after a weary sigh went on to say “we can’t judge if she is happy or not just because she dropped the call. Mr. Romanus, it’s too late to give up now. You have already invested 7 million alrea-”
“Mba! Nwanne, that money cannot waste. Butu what will I do now?” Chief had paid 7 million already and kept hoping that somehow Cupid would bring down the rates after a week.
“Let’s just keep on with the script. Each scene has its purpose, but the goal is to create a wonderful play that the actors and viewers would enjoy. Do you trust me enough to direct this play in such a way that every kobo and energy you have spent would not be lost?”
Chief replied with a broad smile that exposed his denture. Cupid pulled out a notepad and drafted a few things about the day and what needed to be improved and worked on. It was just a few minutes past 12 pm and there was still time to do so much.
“Let’s get to the next thing on my list… observance. Don’t let the word scare you. Think of it this way – Can I notice a lady’s mood without her saying a word. Cupid motioned for the waitress who was staring at him from a distance. “Hey ma’am, how are you today?”
“I can’t complain, sir,” she replied, trying a wear a weak smile.
“I’d like to have some coconut rice with shrimps and chicken. But first, can I have a glass of mixed fruit smoothie?”
“Ok sir, is there anything else I could help you with?”
“No, that would be all for now. Have you had lunch today?”
“No, sir,” the petite waitress replied. “Her eyes looked sunken like she had been weeping. It was obvious she was smiling because she only needed to for the sake of the job.
Cupid said no more words but watched as she walked away. “Did you observe anything about that lady?”
“Nna, the girl is short.”
“how about something that isn’t already obvious?”
The Roman man looked up as if ceiling held the answer to that question. It was clear he wasn’t paying any attention to the lady. That was the same way he had been treating his wife… never paying attention to things that weren’t already obvious.
“That lady is unhappy. I could see it in her eyes.”
The petit waitress walked back with the smoothie in a fancy glass cup and had it placed right before Cupid. “Why is he looking at me that way sir?” she whispered to Cupid who was already laughing at the zeal with which Chief was looking into her eyes.
“You are unhappy and I could see it in your eyes. Do you want to talk to me? I could help you,” Cupid offered his assistance.
“You are a customer sir,” she whispered again not wanting anyone else to know that their discussion was becoming personal. Cupid placed an envelope in her hand, “that’s a tip,” he also whispered. “Thank you for your service.”
“Thank you, sir,” she replied and quickly walked away.
“What did you see in her eyes?”
“I didn’t see anything,” Chief replied honestly.
“Sometimes, she wouldn’t want to tell you what’s on her heart. Don’t try to force words out of her, but push with your heart. Make her believe that you really care about how she feels. A lady’s emotional cycle can be compared to a pendulum; most times, it swings south. But you have to be the force that helps keep those emotions balanced.”
Chief squinted his eyes and shook his head slowly. You know that kind of head shaking you do when you were thinking of fried rice and suddenly pastor is standing in front of you and you begin to nod as if you just received a revelation.
The next on my list is Courtesy; “Learn to say thank you. Appreciate the slightest things she might do for you. Help her when she expects it and when she doesn’t. Open the door for her. Admit when you are wrong and don’t try to prove you are right even when the earth under your feet knows that you are. Just be a gentleman,” Cupid said. A gentleman was something Chief had never been all of his life. You can’t be a gentleman and survive in Alaba international market or Idumota. The violent has to collect sales by force. That’s was the only reason chief still liked Afam and Kizito; they could sell ice block to an Eskimo and make madt profit.
“Thank you so much, sir,” the waitress said, offloading the contents of her tray and interrupting Cupid’s coaching session. “No one has ever been that kind to me.” Tears had welled up in her eyes and her words were becoming slurred. In a few seconds more, it was a free flow of liquid from her eyes. Cupid stood up and held her in an embrace and she didn’t resist but held tightly to the stranger who was so kind to write her a cheque of a hundred thousand as a tip.
“Can I buy you lunch?” Cupid asked the waitress, using his thumb to wipe the tears off her face.
“Yes sir,” she replied, laughing; and this time it was from the depths of her heart. Like a brightly burning halogen bulb, her eyes were lit up and her gap tooth was now visible. It finally hit Chief what Cupid was trying to teach him earlier. He could tell the difference on her face even though he kept looking into her eyes and could only see an iris and a retina.
“Coach, what did you give to her?” Chief asked in his thick accent.
“I gave her love.”
“Nna, teach me how to be giving love like that,” Chief requested, looking intently at the waitress who was almost leaping as she walked away.
“Money isn’t everything, Chief. I gave her a cheque but what I wanted her to see was something more than the money I gave her. I wanted her to see love. Money won’t satisfy your wife if that’s all you give. Give love and value.”
“Coopeedi! Coopeedi! Nna, where did you learn all these things from?”
“Don’t worry about that for today, let’s focus on you assimilating what I’m teaching you.”
Cupid took a break to finish up his meal. A little girl of about 2 years sitting on the table opposite them kept looking at him and suddenly blurted out “Coopeedi,” and then proceeded to smile.
“Hello sweetheart,” Cupid replied and waved at her. “Chief can you see how you have destroyed my name?”
Chief was not concentrating at all. He was focused on looking into everybody’s eyes as they either ate or walked by.
“Chief!” Cupid raised his voice to get the Roman man’s attention. “You don’t want anyone to think you are psychotic. Stop looking at people like that.”
“Ogini bu psychotic?” (trans – what is psychotic)
“Yaba left. Straight jacket things. Deranged. Get it?”
A few minutes later, they both entered Cupid’s Maserati and drove back to the gym. Chief was excited to get on the treadmill. Cupid had made him desire change more than ever. The anticipation of what the night might hold for him and his wife kept him pushing hard for 7 minutes before he began to squeal again. “Coopeedi, this thing is not easy o.”
“You should have taken it easy on the pounded yam and nkwobi when you could,” Cupid murmured. “You would need some kind of workout music to motivate you. What songs do you like? I could stream on YouTube and you could plug your ears with good music.”
“Anything from Morocco,” Chief replied.
“Who is Morocco?” a surprised Cupid replied. “You want Moroccan songs?”
“You don’t know Chief Emeka Morocco Maduka? All these young men that don’t know good music.”
Cupid searched YouTube and surprisingly there were songs from Morocco. After playing the first song for about a minute plus, “Chief, what kind of music is this? For working out?” Cupid questioned.
“Nwanne, you don’t know good music. Dee Morocco and Oliver de Coque use to play original African music.”
“Whatever that means,” Cupid replied. “Do you have something funkier you like?”
“Play Billy Jims by Michael Jackson.” Yes, Chief wanted to listen to Billy Jims and not Billie Jean. An interesting man indeed.
*****3 hours Later*****
Cupid was back at the office and Chief was sore and on his way home. It had been an eventful day. Lots of things to think about both for Cupid and Chief. Cupid had ordered a platinum Swatch watch for Chabria on Amazon, and he also bought Lunch for Onyinye and Sam on his way back to the office. There was nothing more fulfilling than helping others but now more than ever, he wished someone could care enough to fix him. It was at times like this he missed his mother and wondered how much of a succor she could have been to him. And maybe if he had a sister or brother, there would have been someone to tell him ‘buck up, boy, everything is gonna be alright.’
The past was in the rear view but the future was worth fighting for. “Maybe I’d just throw caution to the wind and break the work ethics I so much cherish,” he muttered, deep in thought and oblivious that Onyinye was standing at the door. “I want to fall in love too.”
“Are you alright, sir?”
That snapped Cupid and he quickly replied “I’m doing fine. Was just thinking out loud.” Onyinye hadn’t heard much of what he said but was concerned by his facial expression.
“Boss, you look a little tired. Give me a smile, would you?”
“Yes. I’d leave early today. Maybe in some hours hour or more when the beast – the Lagos traffic – would be asleep.” And then he went ahead to give Onyinye the smile she had requested for.
“Did you have lunch?” she asked.
“I would when I get home. I have some stir fry in the fridge and left over rice too.”
“Ok sir,” she replied and thanked him for all he does to make the world a better place. “Have a wonderful rest of your day.”
Cupid pulled out a wad of clean bills and took out a large chunk, “buy petrol,” he said and placed it in her hands.
“I love you,” she whispered loud enough only for her ears to hear.
Chief parked the car quietly and was not sure whether to come out or to stay in till it was very late into the night and then sneak into the house. For most of the day, he had forgotten that his wife had dropped the call while they were about to start conversing. But now, the reality of having to see her face-to-face and possibly explaining what motivated the text was too much for Chief’s tender loving heart. A heart attack might be imminent. So chief stayed in the car and just kept reminiscing about the time he had spent with Cupid and everything that he had learned. Cupid was a cool guy after all. The only challenge was how he behaved like he was a mixed breed of European and American blood. Chief wasn’t feeling the Igbo man in him yet. Where was the mazi or ichie spirit that his father should have passed down? But after a few days of coaching, Chief quickly realized that he was the one paying one million per day and not Cupid, and as such, he needed to learn from the master and not try to teach him the Igbo way of life.
So, to burn daylight, Chief called all of his friends at Alaba market; buddies that he had not seen in a few days and talked for as long as he could. He wouldn’t disclose to any of them why he had not shown up to his place of business all week even though they all found the behavior erratic for the Roman man. Chief remained in the car till it was a few minutes past 9 pm. It was certain that his wife would be in her room watching some telenovela as presented by Telemundo. Chief usually considered those men in the soap operas to be weak men. No Dimkpa from the Igbo land would be applying gel to his hair, carrying flowers up and down and also allow a woman to control him.
Chief tiptoed to the back door as gently as he could to avoid any noise that would alert his spouse. Looking through the keyhole, he couldn’t make out much, so he quietly pushed the door open and then jammed it slowly behind him, “Coopeedi,” Chief shrieked in fear as he turned on the light. “Mummy, what are you doing here?” he questioned. His wife had been sitting on the bed in the dark, waiting for him to come in.
“Chief, you have been in the car for the past two hours. You have been acting strange for a few days now. What is the matter?”
“Coopeedi,” Chief involuntarily muttered again.
“And what is Coopeedi?”
Chief was speechless. “Mummy!”
“What was the text you sent to me all about? The dinner you served me last night? The new haircut? And Chief you are wearing spandex!”
Chief stammered and tried to comport himself but he couldn’t. So, he just stood there, helpless, battin’ his eyes like a toad in a hailstorm.
“I don’t know what is happening to you. But whatever it is, I think I like it…”
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