Ndidi looked exceptional this afternoon. She was dressed in a black Tom Ford sleeveless jumpsuit. A cream shawl hung around her shoulders, flowing down towards her sides. Her braids were styled in a box bun. Her eyelashes were full, and her lips coated in light red. I looked down at her legs, she had on an Ericdress solid-color sequined zipper stiletto sandal. Oh boy! I couldn’t help but smile over and over again. Here was I, dressed like someone who just came from the farm in comparison to how classy Ndidi looked.
“I must say; you look stunning… breathtakingly beautiful!”
Looking into Ndidi’s eye, I could see that look. It was the kind Michelle had in her eyes when Barrack Hussein Obama gave his farewell address as president of the United States of America. I knew Ndidi adored me.
“You are handsome Mitchie,” she said smiling, and then she reached out and touched my chin. It felt like 2000 volts of current went through my body when that happened. It was the first time in many years, I felt this much butterflies rumbling in my belly. It was a daily experience with Chyoma though before things went south.
“Thank you. That’s what people always say,” I replied cheekily. “Actually, you also look like a million bucks.” It wasn’t an exaggeration. Ndidi was elegant and by all standards -beautiful.
“Awwww! Thanks, bae.”
I wasn’t sure if she should be calling me bae. But I had started the wahala by inviting her to lunch, and telling her she was breathtakingly beautiful. So, I just smiled and replied – “you are welcome, boo.”
Ndidi seemed to be on cloud nine, maybe moving towards the tenth. “So, tell me how you have been since Sunday,” she requested, and then she mused as she flipped through the menu.
“The food on the menu just reminds me of my experience in France. My honeymoon precisely. No questions Mitchie, now back to you.”
Sunday was the last time I had seen Ndidi. We had been to Salamander Café where the drama I acted with Akin had been videotaped and passed on to Chyoma. “I’m not sure I want to relive the last two days. It’s been a roller-coaster experience.”
“I want to listen to you Mitchie,” Ndidi replied, “You know you can talk to me, right?”
How do I say – No. As much as I wanted to keep my private-life-private, I also knew that there would be nothing more cathartic than talking to someone close. Who else was closer to me now? “Are you sure?” I requested to know.
Ndidi sort of leaned closer, as if to say you-can-begin-talking.
“Could I drink a little from your bottle of water?” I asked her because my throat was dry. “You still haven’t made an order,” I noted.
“Sure, you can have the entire bottle if you wish. At this point, you are more important than whatever this beautiful fancy restaurant could serve me.” Ndidi reached out her right hand and took mine.
I felt tingly, and for a moment, there was a glint of boyish ebullience about me. I hadn’t felt that special in a while. More than four years precisely. It wasn’t just because Ndidi was paying attention to me, it was because she reminded of what love felt like. She reminded of how it used to be with Chyoma. It seemed the universe stood still anytime we were together; nothing else mattered.
“It’s about my ex-wife,” I said, looking at Ndidi, trying to evaluate her reaction. After a few seconds, I was making no headway with the evaluation, so I just decided to pour out my heart without reservation for the next thirty-five minutes. Sometimes, almost moved to tears, and at other times laughing as I told interesting stories of our marriage. That was the first time I was actually sitting down and talking to someone about my failed marriage. “Thank you for listening to me,” I said to Ndidi. “Hope I didn’t bore you?”
“No, you almost moved me to tears.” Ndidi pulled out a hanky from her Louis Vuitton vintage bag, and then caught a tear that was about to escape her eye. “You know, I can relate to everything you are experiencing. I have been separated for 8 years too. It’s not been easy,”
“You know what makes it worse?”
“Will you tell me?” Ndidi asked.
“I would if you would request for something to eat, right now.”
So, swinging her right hand into the air, she requested that the waiter comes closer. “I’d like a glass of smoothie. Well, and this is called Steakhouse, I would like to taste your steak. A portion of fried rice, two big pieces of chicken, and a plate of baked beans. Also, some sweet corn and two sets of cutlery. Thank you.”
“Why two sets of cutlery?” I demanded to know.
“You are eating from the same plate with me,” Ndidi said, “and no objections please,” she added.
“OK, ma’am,” I replied, and rolled my eye upwards.
“Mitchie Mitchie, haba, you have to eat with me o,” and then she reached out and touched my chin again. Another 2000 volts of electric current went through my body.
“Yes, I would,” I quickly responded. 4000 volts was alright for one lunch.
“Now tell me what you were about to before you insisted I ordered for lunch.” Ndidi relaxed to listen.
“Remember the guy I had a brawl with on Sunday?”
“Yes,” I replied, and then hissed. “The one who made me act a fool in front of the kids and everyone.”
“I know he really hurt you that day. I have never seen you act that way. See quiet uncle Mitchie ooo. Joan kept talking about it all afternoon after we got home.”
“Oh, dear lord,” I responded, and scratched my head. “I wish I had displayed more self-control.”
I had apologized to the kids, but I felt I owed all of them another round of apology. I immediately tendered one to Ndidi again.
“It seems the guy has been out to frustrate me ever since we met. Right from the first second, the devil has been using him to get to me. Like on a daily basis. Do you know that he had someone record the incident at the café, and he sent it to my ex-wife.”
“Are you kidding?”
“Not at all. I really don’t know what he must have told her about me, you, and the lunch we had at the café. But I took Shawn over to see his twin-”
“The eight and most beautiful wonder of the world,” Ndidi said with a smile, repeating the words I had used to introduce Shirley to her.
“Yes, the cutest and most lovely daughter anyone could wish for. The daughter I would not get to see after Friday, for only God knows how long.” Tears suddenly welled up in my eyes. “Her mother has decided to leave the country by Friday.”
“Are you alright Mitchie?” Ndidi asked, looking concerned as the tears made a quick race down my cheeks.
I felt embarrassed for a moment, and looked around to see if anyone was eavesdropping or staring at me.“I would be. I just need time to soak up all of these.”
“If there’s anything you need or want me to do, I would be most glad to do so for you right now.”
“You’ve been most kind. Without you, I doubt Shirley would have enjoyed her stay with me that much. Seeing her yesterday was amazing. You know, I have lived without her these many years, and I had gotten used to it. But now, I can’t explain it, I would give anything just to have my daughter and…” I was about to say – my wife, but I remembered this was supposed to be a date, and the lady adoringly listening to me was hoping someday I would be kneeling down beside her with a ring in my hand, asking her to be my wife.
“Daugther and?” she asked.
“My daughter and son, living under the same roof till they both grow up and decide to start families of their own.”
“Wouldn’t that be something?”
“Sure, it would. Do you remember the night you guys came over with food?”
“Friday night after church?” Ndidi asked.
“Yes. Do you know that as I was going to buy suya from mallam Shakiru, this guy called me and was asking me about Shirley and telling me that Chyoma had called him twice since she arrived in Sierra-leone, and he wanted to send her greetings to Shirley? As an assistant father or what?”
“I’m starting to see why you are hurt.”
“Yesterday, he sent me pictures of his date with Chyoma, and added a caption – these-are-for-you-looser!”
“No, haba! This is too personal,” Ndidi angrily said. “Mitchie, we can’t allow this to continue oo.”
I suddenly started to laugh. “So, what’s your plan? I have never seen your Killi Wee Nwachukwu face until now. You look funny when you are angry.” We both laughed out loud and continued the chitchat.
“Hey! baby, who is that guy?” Mrs. Frances asked Chyoma as she walked into the kitchen. “I watched you both while you were outside.”
“Mummy! Are you stalking me with your eyes?”
“No. I saw you were all smiles, and so was he. And you both looked happy talking to each other.”
“You think so?”
“I know so. So, tell me all about him.”
Chyoma kept smiling. “He would tell you all about himself when he comes tomorrow night,” Chyoma murmured, as she walked towards the refrigerator, “where’s my chocolate bar?”
“Your daughter ate it.” Mrs. Frances seemed so excited about Akin’s visit. “Tomorrow night? I couldn’t see him up close, but he looked handsome and nice. What’s his profession?”
Chyoma knew that if she dared to portray Akin as the chef/waiter he was, it was certain that the dinner would never take place. “I invited him for dinner. He’s into a lot of things.” The subject was changed quickly. “Would daddy be home tomorrow night?”
“You have to ask him. Your father is like the wind; now you see him, and thereafter you don’t. kpo ya na ekwenti ya.” (call him on his phone)
“OK. I will do that.”
“I hope this boy is not like Mitchel?”
“Mummy! What is it with you and Mitchel, till now?”
“You and Nennaya are my only daughters. I only want the best for both of you.” Mrs. Frances paused for a moment. “Why did you ever choose to marry Mitchel instead of Ifeanyi?”
Yes, Ifeanyi Achinivu – was the main reason Mrs. Frances made my life unbearable. Ifeanyi was a business mogul, the heir to an empire – one that was worth billions of Naira. I could never measure up to Ifeanyi in any way. You know, being a fine boy can only do so little to impress your mother-in-law. Who fine boy epp? I couldn’t impress my ex-mother-in-law no matter how I tried. Ifeanyi would have given a better wedding ring. Ifeanyi would have given a wedding of a lifetime. Ifeanyi would have given a better life. Ifeanyi wouldn’t have allowed Chyoma trek in the sun. Ifeanyi would have sent her abroad to give birth. The comparison was endless. But Ifeanyi wouldn’t have ever loved her and adored her like I did. Never!
And yes, I was young and pretty stupid to have let my ego start to get the best of me. I began to take out my feelings on Chyoma. As Mrs. Frances made my life hell, I unconsciously made Chyoma’s life unbearable too. Each day, I picked a fight, and misread her every action. But how much can one take before giving up? Soon, there was really nothing in our marriage worth fighting for. I was fed up with the barrage of insults, and she was weary of my behavior too. We got divorced and then she relocated to America. It was a hard decision. But she wanted to be as far away from me, Ifeanyi and her mother too. In doing so, she sacrificed her relationship with Shawn.
“Mummy, please, please, please, don’t mention Ifeanyi again, except you don’t want to see me for the next four years.”
“I’m sorry my dear, it’s just-”
“Don’t go there. Not for a second. Let’s talk about Akin, he is the Future.”
Mrs. Frances sighed and then she laughed. “I wish you would tell me more about him.”
“I won’t. You have to wait until tomorrow, and then you can find out all you need to know from him.” It wasn’t really that Chyoma didn’t want to tell her mother more about this gentleman the mother was curious to meet, but she barely knew enough to start down that road. Everything was happening so fast, but it was too good to let-go-of, she believed.
I was up early, barely slept more than three hours all night. The-sleepless-nights was becoming a trend, three days in a row. I had still not been able to tell Shawn that Shirley was leaving on Friday, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do so.
I hadn’t reviewed a poem in four days, and I had recived so many poems, running into almost a hundred. But it was Wednesday, the dead poets day, and I usually reviewed a classic poem in honor of the legends who had laid the foundations on which we stood.
It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of ANNABEL LEE;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.
I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than love,
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.
And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulcher
In this kingdom by the sea.
The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me,
Yes!, that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.
But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we,
Of many far wiser than we,
And neither the angels in heaven above
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.
Review: This is one of the most beautiful poems ever written by Edgar Allen Poe. For me, it stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Khalil Gibran’s ‘on marriage’. The writer seems to portray his love in the realms of fantasy. But he does it so brilliantly that you would wish to challenge the angels for taking Anable Lee. The writer wouldn’t even allow death separate him from his true love. Don’t let anyone or anything come between you and that special person in your life. Believe me, I have learned this the hard way, and I wish I could go back in time to fix this, but it’s too late. Remember, it’s dead poets day… write a poem today. I wish you all a love and poetry filled day. Salute!
Everything looked black and white to me; was it the lack of good sleep or the burden of not seeing Shirley again? I couldn’t tell which.
What lasting memory could I create with Shirley before she leaves? How do I keep Shawn’s spirit from breaking? My mind kept going in a million tangents as I lay in bed, waiting for the sun to overpower the night, and then force its light into my room.
I could remember the first time I held Shirley in my arms; It was a few minutes past 9:00 am, and there was such a joy and ecstasy about it. It was picture perfect. She weighed 3.5kg, and her facial features were just too beautiful; especially her eyes, they looked like beautifully polished glass, underneath which there was trapped all of heaven’s peace and love. I just didn’t want to let her go. I must have sung all the lullabies I knew to keep her from crying, but she needed her mother, while I just wanted to keep cradling her, forever.
While sitting beside Chyoma and the baby, I kept imagining how I was going to take her to school, walk her around the block, play hide and seek with her, tell her about fine boys and how to avoid them. My imagination just seemed to stretch as far as I allowed it. It was right there in the hospital I decided I would name her Shirley; meaning bright wood. She was everything bright and beautiful to me.
I called Ambassador Andrew to inform him that he was now officially a grandpa. That man is just a rare gem. He was standing beside me in the hospital in just a few minutes, laughing and rejoicing. I had also called Mrs. Frances to notify her. She came to visit two weeks later and never showed up for omugwo.
The next day, we were back to the hospital again, because Chyoma was in so much pain. I was scared, worried, and confused. I kept pacing around while the doctor was trying to figure out why she was in pain. Then came the loud screams. The sound seemed to stab the air viciously; It was pains of labor, again. Since they wouldn’t let me into the room, I just kept pacing around, outside her door, singing Majek Fashek’s ‘send down the rain’, a song that the radio hardly even played again. I wondered how the song got started on my lips, but I was nervous and didn’t know what else to sing.
Then came that moment that every husband fears; when the door opens and the doctor walks out, looking like he had fought a battle to keep a patient alive, but had failed.
“Congratulations!” Dr. Orjiugo said in a quiet voice and reached his palm over, and took mine in a warm shake. “You now have a son too.”
Ambassador Andrew’s Residence
The atmosphere was astir, the kitchen was alive with so much aroma. The dining room was aglow with lights. I had eaten at that dinner table three times before. It was the most amazing dining room I had been in, in all my life. There was a large wall aquarium adjacent the dining set, giving it sort of an ocean-view setting. The dining table could seat ten and had a little extra space for two more side chairs if needed. The entire furniture in the room was Michael Amini, and the crystal chandelier was an 85 light foyer from the Maria Theresa collection. The room was designed for beauty and glory.
“Bonnyface, please make sure the security officers are aware that my friend would be around in an hour.” Chyoma had been actively engaged in the kitchen, ensuring the chefs were doing the best job. She had determined to make Akin feel as special as he had made her feel two nights before. “Sweetheart, have you had your bath?” Chyoma quizzed Shirley, who seemed not to care for whatever was making her mother shuttle between the dining room and kitchen.
“Will you bathe me?” Shirley asked, putting up her pity face, one she had used to coax her mother into giving into her demands over the years. She tried doing that to me when she came over for the holiday, but it didn’t work; because if I had given in, my little pharisee would pick up from where she had stopped and take it to a whole new level.
“Ok, go to the room, take off your clothes, I would be there shortly,” Chyoma said with a smile, and then she walked back into the kitchen.
The inviting aroma struck Mrs. Frances’ nose as she walked in. “I have a feeling that tonight is going to be a lovely night.” She winked at Chyoma and smiled. “Your father just called me. He would reschedule the meeting he has for the night, just to be here.”
“Daddy has not changed. Always going out of his way to make me happy.” Chyoma was really close to her father. She was his baby. “Mummy, have you taken your bath?”
“This one you are asking everybody to take their bath, are we smelling?” Mrs. Frances replied jokingly. “I saw Shirley running up the stairs, saying you had asked to go get ready for a bath.”
“Mummy! We have been in the kitchen most of today nah. Right now, you smell like fried chicken.”
“Taa! Si eba puo.” (get out of here)
“Mummy, I’m leaving on Friday o. You would miss me.”
“My dear, I don’t want you to go, but I’m glad you even decided to return after many years.”
“Mummy, it’s just four years.” Chyoma shrugged, and then she walked over to the window, looking outside towards the gate. “What’s the time?”
“When is he supposed to come?”
“He should be here by 7:30 pm. But knowing the kind of gentleman he is, he would be here before then.”
Mrs. Frances had a smile on her face, like one she had the first time she met me. It didn’t last long, though, it began to erode as I began to give my autobiography. “I’d instruct Bonnyface to supervise the kitchen staff. You should get ready for the dinner.”
Chyoma nodded her head in agreement. She threw the napkin in her hand into the sink and then heaved a sigh as she turned towards the door. “Please call daddy to make sure he is close by.”
“What happened to your phone?” Mrs. Frances replied sarcastically.
Chyoma just shook her head as she walked away, up the stairs to her room; her favorite space.
“Akinyesco Badoski,” Fred hailed from the other end of the phone.
“Fredo lala, Brotherly!” the criminal Akin replied his buddy.
“Which of the cars would you like to use tonight?”
“I would have loved to use your oga’s Ford Mustang, but that car is very expensive mehn. I can’t appear to be too rich, that would be my Achilles heel.”
Akin hissed, a little irritated that his friend seemed to lack a lot of wisdom. “How does a chef have a Mercedes Benz-C-Class and a 2015 Ford Mustang?” Akin waited for a few seconds for Fred to reply.
“What if your father is rich?” Fred asked.
“You see why I said that by the time you grow up I would have been badder than I am right now. Her father is influential, and my father must be in his age range. If I make false claims, it wouldn’t be hard to figure out. But I will tell that I am a chef, one who has been very successful.” Akin took a few seconds to clear his throat. “Also, I can sprinkle a little lie. I would inform them that I sometimes get big contracts over the weekend to cook for very wealthy families. I can even offer to cook breakfast for them for free. You know I am a good cook nah. That way, they won’t really know how much I might be worth.”
“Kai! I envy you,” Fred said. From the sound of his voice, you could tell that he wished he could be half as good as Akin. Akin lived comfortably in Wuye, a place where the landlords don’t smile. He had a moderate looking Toyota car, one that his last victim had bought for him.
“Don’t envy me, brotherly, you are not as handsome and you lack the flows,” Akin informed his friend, Fred, in a cocky tone. But Fred was too foolish to consider that an insult, even though he was the one providing his oga’s car for Akin to use. Fred had been more important in the scheme than he even knew. He was the one who made the plans for the dinner at Jabi lake, the one who videotaped and the one who had access to a fleet of cars, from which Akin could choose. But he lacked wisdom.
“I’d bring the car in fifteen minutes. My oga traveled, and my madam won’t be back till about 10:00 pm. Abeg, make nothing keep you for that house pass 9:30 pm. I dey beg you.”
“No wahala brotherly, we would both enjoy the dividends soon, very soon.” Akin walked to the mirror, staring at his reflection, he smiled.
It was 10 minutes to 7:30 pm, Akin had already called Chyoma to inform her that he was close by. Chyoma’s look defined the word gorgeous. She was dressed in a black Herve Leger Signature Essential long sleeve cocktail dress. Her feet were beautified by a burgundy Rhinestone lace peep-toe sandal. Her long shiny silky hair caressed the sides of her shoulder
Shirley had on a burgundy top, black solid tights and a brown Sam Edelman Penny boot. “You are beautiful, mommy.”
“So are you, sweetheart.”
“I wish daddy was the one coming.” Shirley walked up to her mother, holding her hand, “Will I see daddy and Shawn again before we leave?”
Chyoma had planned before now that Shirley wouldn’t be allowed to spend any more time with Shawn and me. I could understand that she was trying to make leaving less emotional for everyone. “How would you like to spend tomorrow night with daddy and Shawn?”
“Yaaaay! You are the greatest mom,” Shirley said, wrapping her arms around her mother’s thigh. “Can we go pig out now?”
“No baby, you know mommy doesn’t eat that much. But you know what?”
“I’d let you eat all you want to tonight, tomorrow and next. But once we go back to the US, you’d have to eat like me.” Chyoma asserted. Shirley didn’t seem to like what she had just been told. “Do you want to look attractive and slender when you are my age?”
Shirley seemed to look at her mother again from head to toe. “Yes mom,” she said with a gummy smile.
“The secret is… eat like a girl. OK. Let’s go down, baby.”
It had been a great evening for Shawn and I. I had bought him ice-cream, shawarma, Kit Kat bars and some packs of Capri Sonne. I permitted him to watch his favorite animations ever since he returned from school. I was just too nice to a fault that the little guy began to wonder why.
“You have been a good boy and daddy really appreciates you a lot.” I could tell by the look in his eyes that he didn’t really believe that that was the reason why I had allowed him to watch so much TV, bought him all his favorite junk food plus a bicycle, his number one wish for the last two Christmases. The truth is that I was trying to ease the emotional pain he would have when I tell him the bad news. So, I was just paving the way for that hour.
The table was set. It was feast-mode. Bonnyface had stepped out to receive Akin while everyone was seated, waiting for the ‘special one’ to step in.
I must give it to Akin, the guy doesn’t disappoint with his looks. He wore a Sutton Peak lapel tuxedo burgundy jacket on top a black turtle neck. His black trouser fitted perfectly and so did his black Calvin Klein shoe, which was made from burnished leather. I don’t know if he fried his hair, or whatever he did, it shined a lot. He looked good. The outfits were matching. Chyoma, Shirley, and Akin all had a touch of burgundy and black. It wasn’t planned.
When Akin walked into the dining room, everyone’s eye seemed to turn at once. And like the Yoruba son he is, he immediately prostrated. Face down and arms stretched. That seemed to please Mrs. Frances a lot. Ambassador Andrew was used to seeing all forms of greetings due to his high-profile, so he never judged people based on that. But he seemed impressed nevertheless. Akin had made a good first impression.
“My son, please stand up, you are welcome,” Mrs. Frances happily said, getting up from her seat and walking towards Akin to give him a hug. “You are even more handsome than Chyoma said you were.”
“It’s so good to meet you mommy, and daddy too,” Akin replied. “Not to forget beautiful Shirley.” Shirley just stared at him in a confusing manner. He couldn’t tell if she was happy or sad to see him. I know my daughter very well… she was not happy. But Shirley’s approval was the least important to Akin at this point. There were bigger hurdles to cross.
Chyoma walked up to Akin and gave him a hug, and then she urged him to sit beside her. Shirley sat at the head of the table. Mrs. Frances and Ambassador Andrew sat beside each other, directly facing Chyoma and Akin.
“Would you kindly pray before we eat?” The Ambassador requested, pointing at Akin.
“Sure sir, that would be a pleasure,” Akin replied and then he went ahead to bless the food.
Everyone began to take a little of this and a little of that. It was a buffet. So many dishes to select from.
Dipping an oval spoon into the bowl, Mrs. Frances served some cheesy potatoe chowder soup and passed it to Shirley. “Tell us a little about you,” she went ahead to ask Akin.
“I’m Akinyele Solarin, an indigene of Ogun State. My grand-uncle is the late Taiwo Solarin. You may know him as Tai Solarin, he was-”
“Your grand-uncle was a respected man. I once met him when he was chairman of People Bank, way back in 1989.” Ambassador Andrew said, and then he apologized for interrupting Akin.
Akin shrugged, “It’s alright sir,” he replied. “I went to the University of Lagos, where I obtained a Bachelors of Arts in Business Administration. I graduated with honors”
Chyoma looked at Akin with surprise when he revealed that. That was the first time she was actually knowing that about him. “Yes, Akin is really smart,” she said in support.
Akin looked at Chyoma and smiled after she had praised him. “You are the smartest lady I have seen in my life too.”
“Awwww babe!” Chyoma replied, moved by his compliment.
Akin’s heart seemed to leap… she called him babe in the presence of her parents.
“After I obtained my first degree, I did my masters program at the University of Ibadan. But after everything, I felt like something was missing in my life. I decided to pursue what I enjoyed doing best – cooking. I had always wanted to be a chef. So, I enrolled into a culinary school and trained for a year. And ever since, it’s been rewarding. Cooking has taken me places I could never have imagined.”
“I believe it must be rewarding. I saw your car yesterday. I must confess it’s a nice car.” Mrs. Frances complimented.
“Thank you, mommy. It’s one of the cars God has blessed me with.”
“Do you own a restaurant or work in one?” Ambassador Andrew asked.
“I’m planning on opening one soon. Just need about ten million to add up to the twelve million I have reserved for that project. But for now, I work at Salamander café. I usually handle intercontinental dishes. Most weekends, I have appointments to cook for celebrities, politicians, and prominent people within the Federal Capital Territory.”
“We should have you come over one of these weekends.” Ambassador Andrew smiled and then filled his mouth with diet coke.
Akin had completely killed it. No one was even interested in asking further questions in regards to his financial status. He had portrayed himself as a young man who had a vision and was on the road to becoming very wealthy. Chyoma suddenly slipped her right hand under the table and reached for Akin’s left hand and then she locked her palm in his. That was a way of saying well done, you-have-been-impressive. Akin tightened the grip a little more and then he let go.
Everyone kept up with the eating, till one-by-one, the spoons and forks began to get laid. Shirley was the last lady standing. Well, she had decided to pig out, so no one was stopping her. Ambassador Andrew wanted to have some private time with Akin, so he requested Akin followed him to the music room, a room he had named ‘The Frank Sinatra hall’.
He wanted to give Akin a music and personality test. Apart from a grand piano, cello, violin and saxophone, there were thousands of records neatly arranged by genre in the room. He quizzed Akin about music for some time. Akin turned out to be really shallow. I remember the day I did my own test, I aced it so well he nicknamed me – the eclectic Mitchel. The test was not to pass judgment on your heart, but it gave him a good idea of the kind of person you are. For example, people who like classical music a lot are perceived to be smart.
On other subjects, the conversation flow with Akin was really good. They talked about several topics; sports, politics, Investments and foreign policy. When they tried to discuss faith, Akin’s shallowness was revealed again. This guy couldn’t quote a scripture to save his life. Ambassador Andrew was doing an assessment, but he was unaware that Akin was also doing same. Akin seemed to ask him so many questions which he happily answered. Akin now had an idea of what he was worth, his investments and the plan for his political future. All these were important to the big picture of the scheme.
The night was still young and everyone seemed to be having fun. The ladies were still together, while Akin was watching soccer with the Ambassador. Then suddenly his phone rang. It was Fred.
“Please, can I take this call, sir?” Akin requested.
“Sure, go ahead.”
Akin walked a little far away, so he could have some privacy. “Brotherly, how far?” he whispered.
“Bros, 9:30 pm done dey reach o, you never show.”
“Brotherly, no vex. I still dey there o. You know how e be nah. The man don like me sotey me and am dey watch football now.”
“Football? You no get TV for house? If them sack me, nah which car you go use next time?” For the first time, it seemed Fred was really angry with his ‘mentor’.
The last question Fred had asked seemed to make a lot of sense to Akin. So, he quickly apologized, cut the call and rushed back to inform everyone that he had to leave because he had just received an urgent call.
“Do you have a soft copy of your CV?” Chyoma’s father asked.
“Yes sir,” Akin answered. “I have it in my mailbox.”
“Send it to me right now, I’d like to see how I can help you. Later we can talk about the proposal for your restaurant.”
Akin quickly pulled out his phone. “What’s your email address, sir?”
“Oh, it’s just my name @ foreignaffairs.gov.ng.”
“I have just sent it sir.” Akin was sweaty already. “He was trying to leave as fast as he could.”
Mrs. Frances wanted to preserve some memory of the night. “Let’s take some pictures,” she suggested, “or are you so much in a hurry?”
Chyoma could sense that Akin was jittery. She didn’t know why but guessed it was related to the urgency of the call he had received. So, she helped hurry things up and then escorted him to the car.
Akin gave her a hug and a kiss on her forehead. “I love you,” he said and then he got into the car and drove away as fast.
Chyoma just stood outside and watched his car leave, till it disappeared from sight. It was the fact that Akin had professed his love for her that seemed to have gotten her frozen. It was like the icing on the cake for the night. There was no better way to end it.
Chyoma was all smiles as she walked back into the living room. “Hey! Dad, what do you think?”
“Well, it’s the first impression, and I would say he scored high, although I have some reservations.”
“How about you mom?”
“I love the young man. He is just too amazing. If this is the only reason God brought you back to Nigeria… Chukwu thank you, sir!”
It was 15 minutes to 10:00 pm, and I was just warming up, preparing to inform Shawn of his sister’s departure. My phone beeped. It was a message from Chyoma. I was undecided for over a minute whether to open it or not. I wasn’t sure what the text would notify me of this time.
‘Shirley would spend the night with you and Shawn tomorrow… Good night!’
I shouted for joy. “Shawn, come let’s turn up,” I said and started dancing. Shawn looked at me carefully to access my mental stability, and then he came over and began to dance with me, without knowing why. “Guess what?”
“I said you should guess, and you are asking me what.”
“No school tomorrow?”
“Lazy boy!” I passed the phone over to him, “read the text”. In a few seconds, he was the one leading the dance. Kimon!
Akin was driving as fast as he could and was now just a few meters away from where Fred had been waiting. Suddenly, he remembered that the CV he forwarded to the Ambassador didn’t match any of the lies he had told that night.
“Akin, fun ara re ni brain,” (Akin, give yourself brain) he screamed out in the car.
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Poem.. Anabel Lee (written by Edgar Allen Poe)
Story written by Richard OTI